Supes’ motion urges LASD, police departments to update their use-of-force policies

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The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors is expected to review a motion Tuesday that urges the Sheriff’s Department, and the 46 different police departments within the county, to update their use-of-force policies and where appropriate new ones, such as requiring officers to intervene and halt officers from using excessive force. 

The motion, brought forth by Supervisors Janice Hahn and Mark Ridley-Thomas, comes on the heels of the death of George Floyd, who was killed by a Minneapolis police officer who kept his knee pressed on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes on Memorial Day. 

“Even though black Americans make up 13% of the U.S. population, they account for 26% of all people who were shot and killed by police from 2015 to 2019,” read the motion. “While law enforcement agencies play an important role in protecting public safety, it is imperative that reforms be made to protect the lives of the civilians that they encounter.” 

“While there are law enforcement agencies in Los Angeles County that have made significant steps toward reform, no local law enforcement department has adopted all eight of these policies,” the motion read. 

The eight policies referenced were introduced by Campaign Zero, a police reform advocacy group that aims to develop data-driven policies. They include: 

  • Requiring officers to intervene to stop another officer from using excessive force. 
  • Restricting, or prohibiting, the use of chokeholds, strangleholds and carotid restraints.
  • Requiring officers to de-escalate situations, when possible, before using force. 
  • Using a force continuum or matrix that defines and limits the types of force that can be used to respond to specific types of resistance. 
  • Requiring officers to give a verbal warning before using deadly force. 
  • Prohibiting officers from shooting at people in moving vehicles unless the person poses a deadly threat by means other than the vehicle. 
  • Requiring officers to exhaust all other reasonable alternatives before resorting to using deadly force. 
  • Requiring comprehensive reporting that includes both uses of force and threats of force.   

The county Sheriff’s Department does not include chokeholds in its training practices. However, chokeholds, strangleholds, carotid restraints, and the knee-on-neck hold that killed George Floyd are not explicitly prohibited in department policy, according to county officials. 

Should the motion pass, law enforcement departments will be urged to adopt all eight reforms and the Civilian Oversight Commission of LASD will be asked to report within 30 days with recommendations on how to strengthen the department’s use-of-force-policies and practices. 

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