Los Angeles County Supervisors Mark Ridley-Thomas and Janice Hahn want the Sheriff’s Department and the County’s 46 local police departments to update their Use of Force policies to include eight policies proven to reduce the number of people killed by police. These eight policies have been put forward by Campaign Zero, an advocacy group led by DeRay Mckesson, Samuel Sinyangwe, and Brittany N. Packnett Cunningham which has published vital research on police practices and is developing data-driven policies to end police brutality.
In a motion filed by Hahn and Ridley-Thomas, the Supervisors are urging the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and the 46 local police departments in the county to review their use of force policies and adapt them to include the following eight policies outlined by Campaign Zero:
- 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
A 2016 analysis by Campaign Zero found that each of these eight reforms was associated with a 15% reduction in police killings for the average police department, and departments that implemented more than four of the reforms saw the largest reduction in killings. 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.
“The killing of George Floyd once again exposes the harsh reality that the African-American community has to endure in our country. We will not accept this injustice,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said. “I believe that the eight reforms identified by Campaign Zero in this motion give us specific and clear changes to reduce the use of force by law enforcement that has resulted in this senseless violence. I urge dozens of police agencies in the County to adopt the policies immediately.”
“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.”
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 Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, for example, does not include chokeholds in their training practices. However, chokeholds, strangleholds, carotid restraints, and the knee-on-neck hold that killed George Floyd are not explicitly prohibited in department policy. Additionally, requiring the reporting of threats of use of force is one of the reforms associated with the highest reduction in police killings, but neither the LASD or Los Angeles Police Department require this type of comprehensive reporting.
In addition to the reforms put forward by Campaign Zero, the Civilian Oversight Commission of the Sheriff’s Department created an Ad Hoc Committee that has, over the past several months, been reviewing and analyzing the Sheriff’s use of force policies in order to make recommendations on how to strengthen these policies. The Civilian Oversight Commission is set to issue these recommendations in the coming weeks. The motion also directs the Civilian Oversight Commission to report back to the Board of Supervisors in 15 days with their recommendations on strengthening LASD’s use of force policies and practices.