Villanueva details Sheriff’s Department use-of-force policies

Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva

After a call by members of the Board of Supervisors for law enforcement agencies countywide to change their use-of-force policies, Sheriff Alex Villanueva discussed his department’s attitude toward the use of force amid national protests on the topic. 

Most of these policy changes are outlined by Campaign Zero, which is dedicated to reducing the number of people who die in police-related incidents to zero. It’s funded by contributions from activists, protesters and researchers across the nation, according to the campaign’s website. 

“Campaign Zero echoes the LASD use-of-force principles, and we encourage all law enforcement to mirror our 21st-century use-of-force policies,” Villanueva said in a social media post.

Among those possible changes is a total ban on carotid artery restraints, which is a method of rendering a person unconscious by restricting the flow of blood to the brain by compressing the sides of the neck, a technique that has come into question following the death of George Floyd in Minnesota.

Use-of-force policy solutions as laid out by Campaign Zero. Courtesy graphic

Villanueva outlined the department’s use-of-force policy as of Monday, highlighting where the policy aligned with the eight solutions laid out by Campaign Zero:

1. All LASD personnel must intervene and stop other deputies/officers/personnel from using excessive force, then immediately report it to a supervisor.

2. All LASD personnel are prohibited from using chokeholds, strangleholds and carotid restraints that are performed with legs, knees or feet.

3. All LASD personnel must de-escalate situations and use force as a last resort.

4. All LASD use-of-force options are listed on a situational-options chart, which defines and limits the types of force that can be used in response to specific types of behavior.

5. All LASD personnel shall identify themselves and give a verbal warning before using deadly force, when feasible.

6. All LASD personnel are prohibited from shooting at people in moving vehicles, unless the person poses a deadly threat by means other than the vehicle.

7. All LASD personnel are required to exhaust all other reasonable alternatives before resorting to using deadly force.

8. All LASD personnel are required to comprehensively report and document all applications and witness of the use of force, while the threat of force is also documented in certain situations. An investigation is conducted into every use-of-force incident and is reviewed by department executives.

In addition, Villanueva has highlighted the following use-of-force policies that are under review for changes:

  • There will be an immediate moratorium on the use of the LASD carotid restraint in all situations that do not rise to the level of deadly force.
  • The documentation of all threats of force (not just certain threats already in policy) is under review.
  • All LASD use-of-force policies are in a constant state of revision, based on lessons learned, best practices and input from the community. Specific policy language will be reviewed for congruency with current training and community input.

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