Interim Police Chief Cites Lower Numbers of Crimes, Arrests and Uses of Force

City Councilmember, community member call for more emphasis on de-escalation in use of force cases

Published : Tuesday, December 4, 2018 | 5:48 AM

Pasadena Interim Chief of Police John Perez listens to a resident at the Public Safety Committee meeting held in Pasadena City Hall on Monday, December 3, 2018

Continuing an ongoing pattern, Pasadena Interim Police Chief John Perez Monday cited decreasing numbers in overall crime, arrests, and uses of force by police this year.

Crime has dropped 5 percent in the current year to date when compared to the figure for 2017 at the same point, Perez said. Over the past three years, he said, the crime fell by 16.5 percent.

Compared to last year, there has been a 34% decrease in residential burglaries, a 28% decrease in commercial burglaries, and a 16% drop in assaults, he said.

Perez noted that from January 1 to November 15, 2018, there were 28 total use of force incidents, involving 35 department employees.

The number and types of force varied among the 28 force incidents, with use of force ranging from carotid holds to tasers to pepper spray to bodily strikes. This created a total of 40 individual uses of force among the 28 incidents reported.

No uses of force in the 28 incidents involved this year to date involved baton strikes or handguns, Perez reported.

Pasadena police officers used 14 bodily strikes against suspects, and 20 uses of energy weapons, such as tasers. Two incidents required pepper spray, and three incidents involved the use of a carotid neck hold. One additional incident involved the use of a K-9.

While the uses of force continued to decrease, Councilmember Tyron Hampton still questioned Perez on the use of de-escalation techniques by officers, telling Perez, “De-escalation should be a priority.”

In addition, Hampton asked for a breakdown of individual use of force incidents, with reports citing how many, and what types of uses of force, were used in the various incidents, rather than just overall numbers.

“We need to treat (suspects) as human beings before anything else,” Hampton said.

Pasadena resident Vincent DeStefano also told the Committee, that the City “needs use of force guidelines that stress de-escalation.”

But Councilmember Steve Madison disagreed, saying “I am uneasy with the idea of de-escalation as a goal. The goal should be safety of the public, and of our officers.”

Perez responded that Pasadena police officers are taught de-escalation techniques and reviewed every two months, with scenario training.

“It’s not just reacting,” said Perez. “No police officer wants to get into a use of force situation.”

Committee Chair John Kennedy told the Committee, “We need to establish policy first. It needs to be first in class and cutting edge.”

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