Responsible Policing and Use of Force Reform in LA County
For decades, systemic racism, implicit bias, and excessive use of force have resulted in the disproportionate killing of black men and women by police. 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. 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.
However, research has shown that changes made to department policy can lead to decreased uses of force by law enforcement officers. The anti-police brutality organization Campaign Zero has identified eight reforms to use of force policies that have been shown to reduce the number of officer-involved killings.
8 Policies To Reduce Police Brutality:
- 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
Each of these eight reforms was associated with a 15% reduction in police killings for the average police department -- put together, they reduced police violence by 72%. Importantly, departments with more restrictive use of force policies also experienced lower rates of assaults on officers and officers killed in the line of duty.
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 people are demanding change,” said Supervisor Janice Hahn. “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. Most of the police departments in LA County have already implemented one or two of these policies, but no one has implemented all eight. I am calling on our Sheriff and all of our local police chiefs to update their use of force policies to include these important restrictions to use of force. We cannot wait any longer.”
Across the nation, people are rising up to say that they have had enough of the senseless killing of unarmed black men and women at the hands of the police. It is time for law enforcement departments across Los Angeles County to evaluate their own use of force policies and update them to make meaningful progress in preventing the use of unnecessary lethal force by their officers.
Supervisors Hahn and Ridley-Thomas have filed a motion to be voted on Tuesday, June 9th by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.
If the motion passes, the Board of Supervisors will:
- Send a letter to the Sheriff and each of the 46 local police departments urging them to review their own use of force policies and adapting them to include the 8 policies above.
- Direct the Civilian Oversight Commission of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department to report back to the Board of Supervisors in 15 days with their recommendations on strengthening LASD’s use of force policies and practices.
Make your voice heard:
You can make your voice heard to the Board of Supervisors and support their call for reform. The Board of Supervisors will hear public comment at their upcoming virtual meeting Tuesday, June 9 at 9:30 am.
To address the board: call (877) 226-8215 Participant Code: 7138614
Or submit written comment online: publiccomment.bos.lacounty.gov
Read the full report on why these 8 policies are so important in every one of our law enforcement departments across LA County.