LOS ANGELES – Two members of the Board of Supervisors called Thursday for Sheriff Alex Villanueva and all law enforcement departments in Los Angeles County to adopt eight use of force restrictions recommended by the advocacy group Campaign Zero, including restricting the use of chokeholds and requiring a warning before shooting.
Supervisors Janice Hahn and Mark Ridley-Thomas filed a motion in support of the policies — dubbed “8 Can’t Wait” and aimed at police departments nationwide — which range from prohibitions on shooting at moving vehicles to comprehensive reporting on not only use-of-force incidents but the threat of force.
Some are already part of existing use-of-force rules for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
Hahn said none of the law enforcement agencies operating within the county have implemented all eight.
“The people are demanding change,” Hahn said in a statement. “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 L.A. County have already implemented one or two of these policies, but no one has implemented all eight… We cannot wait any longer.”
Campaign Zero is led by Black Lives Matter activist DeRay Mckesson, data scientist Samuel Sinyangwe and policy advocate Brittany N. Packnett Cunningham and is developing data-driven policies to end police brutality.
“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,” 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 supervisors pointed out that while sheriff’s deputies are not trained in the use of chokeholds, the department’s policy does not explicitly ban the use of chokeholds, strangleholds and the knee-on-neck hold used on George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer now facing a second-degree murder charge in his death.
The eight recommendations are:
— requiring officers to intervene to stop another officer from using excessive force;
— banning or at least restricting the use of chokeholds and strangleholds, including carotid restraints, to situations where deadly force is authorized;
— requiring officers to de-escalate situations before using force;
— using a use-of-force continuum that defines and limits the types of force that can be used in response to various forms 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; and
— requiring comprehensive reporting that includes both uses of force and threats of force.
The union that represents sheriff’s deputies pushed back hard against the supervisors’ motion in a statement issued Thursday afternoon.
“I am very disappointed that you feel the need to make a knee-jerk reaction motion that is insulting to the deputies of Los Angeles County,” said Ron Hernandez, president of the Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs. “In a time when our deputies have been ordered to work unprecedented hours in overlapping emergencies, instead of openly praising them for the job they do, you take the word of a biased anti-law enforcement group. This motion indicates that you believe deputies are looking to hurt or kill people, as opposed to reacting to a situation to which they have been called, or observed.”
Hernandez pushed back specifically against the notions that deputies don’t already work to de-escalate volatile situations, intervene to stop other officers using excessive force, give a warning before using force, and stop short of firing on a vehicle unless there is another threat of deadly force.
“Your suggestions in this motion are the equivalent of us making demands that you, as individual board members, be required to not receive kickbacks, engage in illegal political favors, and/or abuse your powers, for personal gain,” Hernandez said.
The ALADS leader said he stood with other law enforcement members who condemned what happened in Minneapolis.
“Make no mistake. The actions of the four Minneapolis police officers is appalling to all law enforcement, and I look forward to the proof that the justice system works,” Hernandez said, as he called on Hahn and Ridley-Thomas to collaborate with the union rather than using deputies as scapegoats.
A 2016 study by Campaign Zero concluded that adding additional reforms was associated with a 15% reduction in police killings for the average department; departments implementing more than four reportedly saw the largest drop.
The analysis also found that departments with more restrictive policies in place also had lower rates of assaults on officers and officers killed in the line of duty.
Civil rights leaders called Thursday morning for a meeting with Sheriff Alex Villanueva to share video footage from residents that they say captures excessive use of force against protesters over the last several days.
Viral videos — which may or may not be part of the cache that activist Najee Ali and others want to share with Villanueva — show officers beating protesters with batons. Several journalists have also reported being injured by police — at least one struck by a baton and another hit in the neck by a rubber bullet — while covering protests.
In response to video of deputies in Compton apparently beating an alleged looter already on the ground and not resisting, Villanueva also posted on Twitter, urging anyone with footage to reach out to his department.
Then he added, “This is another example of why we so desperately need the @LACountyBOS to fully fund@LASDHQ’s body-worn camera project. The public deserves full transparency.”
Villanueva has been pressing for a bigger budget, even as the Board of Supervisors pushes him to cut department overtime and find solutions to a department deficit.
Hahn and Ridley-Thomas’ motion is expected to be heard by the full Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, June 9.
They have also asked the Civilian Oversight Commission, a watchdog agency overseeing the Sheriff’s Department, to report back in less than 30 days on recommendations for strengthening use-of-force policies. The commission, which met Thursday morning, has an ad hoc committee that has spent several months reviewing those policies.