What are the ‘8 Can’t Wait’ policies?

Motorcycle deputies line Valencia Blvd. Thursday afternoon as protesters gather at the SCV Sheriff's Station. June 4, 2020. Bobby Block / The Signal.

As the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors continues to consider the “8 Can’t Wait” new policies for policing, residents are left asking what these new types of procedures are and what they mean for law enforcement and the community. 

A list of eight policy changes authored by Campaign Zero — an organization born out of the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown in 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri — research has shown more restrictive use-of-force policies can reduce killings by police and save lives, according to the website established for 8 Can’t Wait.

The policy changes the Board of Supervisors adopted and are taken from the 8 Can’t Wait project are as follows: 

  • Ban chokeholds and strangleholds during arrests. 
  • Require de-escalation during incidents and detainment. 
  • Require warning before deputies shoot their firearms. 
  • Require deputies to exhaust all alternatives before shooting. 
  • Require officers to intervene, stop and/or report excessive force used by other officers. 
  • Ban shooting at moving vehicles. 
  • Establish a “force continuum” that restricts and creates policy regarding the most severe types of force to the most extreme situations. 
  • Require comprehensive reporting by deputies for every instance of force or threats of force utilized by law enforcement. 

“The people are demanding change,” Supervisor Janice Hahn said before a meeting in June to discuss the adoption of 8 Can’t Wait policies. “These are eight steps that can be taken right now by all of our law enforcement departments that are proven effective in reducing the number of people killed by police and sheriff’s deputies.”

A number of sheriff’s departments across the country already adopted some of these policies, including the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. However, no department in the country had adopted all eight of them, Hahn said. 

Campaign Zero conducted a study of 100 cities in the United States in 2016, and created the eight types of restrictions based on what policies were associated with lower rates of killings by police, according to the 8 Can’t Wait website.

 The study found having more policies in place restricting use of force leads to “significantly fewer police-involved killings compared to departments with fewer of these policies in place.” 

“While we do not consider these adoptions a sole victory, we believe that they are useful steps on the path towards a collective goal,” reads a statement from the leaders of the 8 Can’t Wait project posted on its website. “While we stand by the idea that any political leaders truly invested in protecting Black lives should adopt the #8CANTWAIT policies, we also believe the end goal for all of us should be absolute liberation from policing, and encourage visitors to the (8 Can’t Wait website) to support the range of organizers who are making progress in employing other strategies towards abolition: defunding the police and reinvesting in community.”

However, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department deputies say they have practiced these policies in the past. The issue they draw with the Board of Supervisors’ decision is the “absolute wording.” 

Detective Ron Hernandez, president of the Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs, or ALADS, says using the word “banning” and “requires” are absolute terms, and that they fail to account for the fact that all situations are not the same. 

Hernandez used examples such as a chokehold being used as a de-escalation strategy in some instances, or deputies arriving at the scene of an already occurring shooting and not having time to shout out their intention to fire at the suspect shooting at them.

“It allows some Monday morning quarterback to simply say, ‘Yeah, I understand the circumstances didn’t dictate that you had the time to do that, but doesn’t it say here that you’re required to do it,’” said Hernandez over a phone call with The Signal on Tuesday. “Those are the things that paint you into a corner. … Maybe some of this stuff might apply to other agencies across the United States, but I can just about guarantee you that Los Angeles and California in general is already following these guidelines without the restrictive wording like ‘banned’ and  ‘requiring.’”

In the Santa Clarita Valley between February 2017 and January 2018, there were 79 use-of-force incidents by deputies, 76 from February 2018 to January 2019 and 83 between February 2019 and January 2020. 

In total, there was a 9.21% increase in the use of force by SCV Sheriff’s Station deputies between 2018-19 and 2019-20, but a 12.78% increase departmentwide, from 540 to 609, according to statistics provided by LASD. 

The SCV ranked second lowest in number of use-of-force incidents for the five stations that make up the North Patrol Division.

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