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Pasadena Police Department Says Most of County’s Proposed Law Enforcement Reform Recommendations Already In Place

Published on Tuesday, June 23, 2020 | 8:45 am
 

[UPDATED] A Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors member pulled a motion on a series of eight proposed law enforcement reform measures Tuesday that has been slated for a vote later in the day, while Pasadena police officials say the vast majority of suggestions are already in place in the city.

The reforms are listed in a motion filed by Supervisor Janice Hahn and Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, which was inspired by the national “8 Can’t Wait” campaign organized by the advocacy organization Campaign Zero. But the motion was pulled from consideration by Ridley-Thomas Tuesday morning. It was not immediately clear whether it would be rescheduled for later consideration.

The motion would result in the Board of Supervisors sending a letter to the Los Angeles County Sheriff and each of the 46 police department within the county urging them to adopt the rules. It would also direct the Civilian Oversight Commission of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department to report back in 15 days “with their recommendations on strengthening LASD’s use of force policies and practices,” according to a statement issued by Hahn’s office.

“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,” Hahn said in a written statement.

“Most of the police departments in LA County have already implemented one or two of these policies, but no one has implemented all eight,” Hahn said. “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.”

But with rare exceptions spawned by life-and-death situations, the Pasadena Police Department already espouses the reforms set forth in the county motion, officials said.

“Pasadena PD policies completely support the majority of the items as it is just the right way to do police work,” Lt. William Grisafe said.

With the “8 Can’t Wait” campaign attracting more attention, “The Pasadena Police Department has received numerous emails, texts and inquiries regarding these eight points,” the department said in a written statement. “Fortunately, the Pasadena Police Department’s policies, training standards, and hiring practices support all eight points as evident by the 50% reduction in force used by officers over the past two years and recovery of a large number of firearms.”

“Chief Perez has promoted a culture of respect through de-escalation so more can be accomplished, and we are moving in a positive direction,” according to the statement.

While the department’s existing policies and those outlined in the Board of Supervisors’ motion align in principle, there are some differences when it comes to the specifics:

The proposed reforms also would call on police agencies to “Use a Force Continuum or Matrix that defines and limits the types of force that can be used to respond to specific types of resistance.””

Under existing department policy, “Officers are trained to only use force necessary to effect an arrest as set forth in Policy 300.3.1, the police statement said.”

Nonetheless, “There is not a ‘ladder’ that must be followed, and officers must have options available to choose from that are reasonable and necessary, under the circumstances,” the Pasadena police statement added.

The policy outlined in the “8 Can’t Wait” motion calls on police to ban officers from shooting at anyone in a moving vehicle, “unless the person poses a deadly threat by means other than the vehicle.”

Shooting at a moving vehicle is rarely effective and to be avoided if possible, but it may be necessary under certain circumstances, Pasadena police said.

“Although rare and only after all other options have been considered, there are some situations where shooting at a moving vehicle is necessary to protect the lives of innocent people,” according to the police statement. “Such examples include when a vehicle is being used as a weapon against a citizen or police officer, or the vehicle’s occupant(s) are themselves, shooting from the moving vehicle.”

The reforms in the motion call on law enforcement to “Require officers to exhaust all other reasonable alternatives before resorting to using deadly force.”

That is already the case in Pasadena, and is required by state law, police said.

“Officers are trained to only use force which is reasonable to make an arrest,” the statement said. “As a rule, the use of deadly force is only justified in certain circumstances, such as the protection of persons from imminent death or serious injury.”

The motion calls for police agencies to “Require officers to intervene to stop another officer from using excessive force.”

“The Pasadena Police Department has strict policies regarding an officer’s obligation to intervene. Policy 300.2.1 states officers do have a duty to intercede to prevent the use of unreasonable force and requires any officer to promptly report any excessive force,” the police statement said.

The motion calls for police to “Restrict or prohibit the use of all neck restraints, including chokeholds, strangleholds, and carotid restraints and knee-on-neck maneuvers.”

While a “carotid restraint control hold,” capable of rendering a person unconscious by blocking blood flow to the brain, is outlined in Pasadena police policy, the department suspended its use on June 7.

The county motion calls for police to “Require officers to de-escalate situations, when possible, before using force.”

Such a de-escalation policy has been in place in Pasadena for years, police said.

“De-escalation is set forth in Policy 300.3.5 and accounts for situations that are rapidly evolving and provides that officers should seek to de-escalate when safe to do so, without compromising law enforcement priorities,” the police statement said. “Officers must continually evaluate factors that may require either escalation or de-escalation of force to protect themselves or others, as the preferred outcome is to effectively deal with situations while minimizing the need for force.”

The motion would ask for mandatory “comprehensive reporting that includes both uses of force and threats of force.”

Pasadena police already require all uses of force to be documented “promptly, completely and accurately,” according to the statement. The department made not mention of “threats of force.”

The proposal would call for police departments to “Require officers to give a verbal warning before using deadly force.”

Current Pasadena police policy requires a warning prior to the use of deadly force, “when feasible,” according to the department. “However, it is not always possible to warn in every situation. For example, a warning might not be provided when an officer or civilian is being fired upon or threatened at gunpoint.”

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