mcloudy.png
Friday September 18th, 2020 4:46PM

Harris draws on her past as US faces reckoning on police

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — When Kamala Harris won her first election for San Francisco district attorney in 2003, the office's relationship with the city police force was in tatters. She promised to rebuild trust, but the goodwill didn't last.

Three months after Harris took office, a young city police officer was shot and killed. Harris quickly said she wouldn't seek the death penalty for his killer, instead opting for life without parole. She'd run as a death penalty opponent, but her move surprised and angered police.

“This was a symbolic thing to them of respect," said Debbie Mesloh, Harris' then-communications director. While Harris made it her top priority to win a conviction for the officer’s killer, her relationship with police was “really challenged for a long time.”

Harris sometimes struggled to navigate her complicated relationship with police when she sought the Democratic presidential nomination last year. Law enforcement leaders never fully embraced her, and some progressives also viewed her warily.

She's getting a second chance as Joe Biden's running mate, having joined the Democratic ticket at a moment of deep reckoning in the U.S. about policing and systemic racism. She's drawing on her past to take a leading role in the campaign to counter President Donald Trump's argument that Americans would be less safe under a Biden presidency.

In the month since she was nominated for vice president, Harris has largely focused on the reforms she and Biden would implement if elected and spoken in personal terms about nationwide protests against police violence.

“We need to have serious police reform,” Harris said at a recent fundraiser. “Joe and I are very clear about this.”

Neither Harris nor Biden support “defunding" the police, but Harris says the country needs to “reimagine" what policing and community safety look like. She often says well-funded public schools, good-paying jobs and high rates of home ownership also make neighborhoods safe.

Her perspective is shaped by her experience in California, where she faced competing interests.

Harris' rocky start in San Francisco was still on officers' minds when she ran for state attorney general in 2010, and the largest law enforcement organization in the state representing rank-and-file officers backed her Republican opponent. But when Harris eked out a victory, she immediately reached out and began a listening tour with officers across the state. Four years later, the officers' group backed her for reelection and also supported her 2016 race for U.S. Senate.

Michael Durant worked with Harris from 2013 to 2017 as head of that group, the Peace Officers Research Association of California, and said the two had an “unbelievable relationship." When her office created implicit bias training for officers, she asked for Durant's input. When the Legislature created a board to oversee racial profiling in policing, Durant's organization had a spot on it.

“We did not always agree on everything, and she came up with some things that were maybe deleterious,” Durant said. “But she always reached out to us and always gave us a seat at the table.”

Durant, who retired and now lives in Missouri, said he plans to vote for Trump. But he does not believe Trump's claims that Biden and Harris would wreak havoc on police departments.

“I am not of the belief she and Joe Biden are going to bankrupt every law enforcement agency," he said.

The group's current president, Brian Marvel, said Harris seems less interested today in getting police input than she once was because of a national conversation that “police unions are bad." His group met with California Rep. Karen Bass, a House sponsor of the police reform bill; they didn’t get time with Harris, he said. Her staff met with Marvel's group and reform advocates, a Senate spokesperson said.

“She doesn’t want to have that conversation with us for fear of the folks on the far left who will see that as caving in to the police unions,” Marvel said. “In reality, what it is is she’s getting advice from people who are dealing with this day in and day out.”

Even in Democratic California, law enforcement groups are politically powerful, and statewide reforms have been slow. When Harris started requiring Department of Justice officers to wear body cameras, a first-in-the-nation program, she didn’t support requiring it for all California police. With high-profile police shootings occurring nationwide, she opposed legislation that would have required her office to appoint special prosecutors to investigate fatal police shootings, leaving discretion to local district attorneys.

Those decisions were based in part on her own experience as a San Francisco prosecutor. She also understood the need to change “hearts and minds" to make long-lasting change, said Nathan Barankin, Harris' former chief of staff in the attorney general's office and Senate.

“Otherwise, if you haven't done that, any change you do implement is Pyrrhic, it's ephemeral. It will last as long as you're sitting on it and then quickly disappear once you are gone," he said.

Today, Harris backs more across-the-board reforms. She and Biden propose using federal dollars to force departments to review their training policies on de-escalation, and they want more federal investigations of police departments with histories of misconduct. In the Senate, she's the co-sponsor of legislation aimed at banning the use of chokeholds and creating a registry of police officer misconduct, among other reforms.

In the month since she joined the ticket, the national tension over policing has climbed after the police shooting of Jacob Blake and the death of Daniel Prude, who lost consciousness as officers put a bag over his head and died a week later. Both men are Black. On Saturday night in Harris' home state, two Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies were shot in an ambush as they sat in their car. Harris called it a “horrific attack.”

Harris' personal and professional experience gives her a unique opportunity to speak to voters about both the need to quell violence that's accompanied some protests and the need for policing reforms, said Jeff Blodgett, a Democratic consultant from Minnesota who has worked for Sen. Amy Klobuchar, a former prosecutor who has won statewide office three times.

That's a message that could resonate with suburban women voters Trump is trying to win over with his warnings of crime.

“I think she can speak to both sides of that if she gets a chance,” he said. “Telling her story — her whole story — needs to be done.”

___

AP’s Advance Voting guide brings you the facts about voting early, by mail or absentee from each state: https://interactives.ap.org/advance-voting-2020/

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News, AP Elections, General Election News, General Presidential Election News
© Copyright 2020 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Report: Death penalty cases show history of racial disparity
A new report by a think tank examining executions in the United States says death penalty cases show a long history of racial disparity, from who is executed to where and for what crimes
12:16AM ( 16 minutes ago )
Harris draws on her past as US faces reckoning on police
Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris is drawing on her past as the U.S. faces a reckoning over policing
12:15AM ( 17 minutes ago )
Sally's threat: 'Potentially historic' floods, fierce winds
Rain bands from slow-moving Hurricane Sally are moving over the Florida Panhandle as forecasters try to determine exactly where the plodding but powerful storm will come ashore
12:12AM ( 20 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
California governor gently confronts Trump on climate
California Gov. Gavin Newsom was respectful with President Donald Trump about climate change during his visit to the state
10:05PM ( 2 hours ago )
The Latest: Biden vows to 'restore dignity for everyone'
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden is promising to “restore dignity for everyone, especially the poor” if he defeats President Donald Trump in November
8:33PM ( 3 hours ago )
Biden assembles legal team ahead of divisive 2020 election
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden is assembling a team of top lawyers in anticipation of court challenges to the election process that could ultimately determine who wins the race for the White House
8:06PM ( 4 hours ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
UK's Johnson defends planned law, says EU 'unreasonable'
Prime Minister Boris Johnson says his plan to unilaterally rewrite Britain’s divorce deal with the European Union is a necessary insurance policy against the bloc’s unreasonable behavior
5:50PM ( 6 hours ago )
Democrats to probe whether officials meddled with CDC data
A House subcommittee examining President Donald Trump’s response to the coronavirus pandemic is launching an investigation into reports that political appointees have meddled with routine government scientific data to better align with Trump’s public statements
5:45PM ( 6 hours ago )
Trump, DeVos raise school choice in appeal to vexed parents
Millions of American children are starting the school year online because of the pandemic
4:14PM ( 8 hours ago )
AP Online Congress News
The Latest: Trump said 'nothing more' could be done on virus
President Donald Trump told journalist Bob Woodward that “nothing more could have been done” in his response to the coronavirus
4:17PM ( 8 hours ago )
Trump, Biden face off on West Coast wildfire, climate change
With the smell of California wildfires in the air, President Donald Trump on Monday ignored the scientific consensus that climate change is playing a central role
4:02PM ( 8 hours ago )
Vision 2020: Electoral College vs popular vote in America
One of the quirks of the U.S. election process is that one candidate can win the popular vote but another can win the electoral vote and thus the presidency
3:54PM ( 8 hours ago )
AP Elections
In defiance of Nevada governor, Trump holds indoor rally
President Donald Trump was back in his element this weekend, soaking up the raucous cheers of his crowd
9:02AM ( 15 hours ago )
Democrats try to streamline mail balloting for their voters
Democrats are unveiling new operations to try to make it easier for their voters to cast ballots
7:46AM ( 16 hours ago )
On Western swing, Trump aims to court pivotal Latino voters
President Donald Trump is pitching his reelection to Latino voters during a second day of campaigning in Nevada
9:13PM ( 1 day ago )
General Election News
Belarus protests enter 6th week, still demand leader resign
More than 100,000 demonstrators calling for the authoritarian president's resignation marched in the Belarusian capital as the daily protests that have gripped the nation entered their sixth week
2:20PM ( 1 day ago )
10,000 women march to demand that Belarus president resign
About 10,000 women have marched noisily through the Belarusian capital, beating pots and pans and shouting for the resignation of the country's authoritarian president in the 35th consecutive day of large protests
3:51PM ( 2 days ago )
Thousands back Ivory Coast opposition candidate Bedie
Thousands of opposition supporters in Ivory Coast have gathered in the city of Yamoussoukro to support Henri Konan Bedie becoming their candidate for the Oct. 31 presidential election
3:32PM ( 2 days ago )
General Presidential Election News
Report: Death penalty cases show history of racial disparity
A new report by a think tank examining executions in the United States says death penalty cases show a long history of racial disparity, from who is executed to where and for what crimes
12:16AM ( 16 minutes ago )
Sally's threat: 'Potentially historic' floods, fierce winds
Rain bands from slow-moving Hurricane Sally are moving over the Florida Panhandle as forecasters try to determine exactly where the plodding but powerful storm will come ashore
12:12AM ( 21 minutes ago )
South Dakota AG discovered man's body day after crash
South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg says he discovered he had struck and killed a man walking along a rural stretch of highway only after returning to the scene the next day and discovering the body
12:08AM ( 25 minutes ago )
South Dakota agency: AG reported hitting deer, but hit man
South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg says he discovered he had struck and killed a man walking along a rural stretch of highway only after returning to the scene the next day and discovering the body
11:48PM ( 44 minutes ago )
Minor tosses 2-hitter, A's manage split with Mariners
Mike Minor tossed a two-hitter with eight strikeouts, Jake Lamb doubled and homered in his first game after signing with Oakland, and the Athletics beat the Seattle Mariners 9-0 in the nightcap of their doubleheader
11:46PM ( 46 minutes ago )