Law enforcement agencies across the nation are being encouraged to employ a new use-of-force policy that stresses “de-escalation,” reports Tom Jackson of the Washington Post.
A new model policy recommends that police departments declare “It is the policy of this law enforcement agency to value and preserve human life,” Jackson reported.
The new policy states: An officer shall use de-escalation techniques and other alternatives to higher levels of force consistent with his training whenever possible and appropriate before resorting to force and to reduce the need for force.
The Los Angles Police Department (LAPD) doled out almost $81 million in the last fiscal year to settle lawsuits, the Los Angeles Times reported.
According to the Washington Post, that means “talking and trying to calm a subject, waiting for backups and supervisors to arrive, and trying to resolve a situation without gunfire, when the subject does not have a gun.”
The new policy was spurred on by the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) and the National Fraternal Order of Police Officers Union (FOP) with the goal of creating a “National Consensus Policy on Use of Force” due to a high volume of officer-involved shootings, said former IACP President Terry Cunningham.
The two associations brought together a group of elite police organizations: The National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, the National Association of Women Law Enforcement Executives and other agencies.
“These are the people who are on the street every day doing the job,” Cunningham said. “You want to have their buy-in.”
Stakeholders like the Major Cities Chiefs Association support the new policy but objected to a component that allows the firing of warning shots or shots at moving vehicles under certain circumstances.
This question of whether to fire shots from or at a moving vehicle aroused controversy within the conferring agencies. The IACP’s own policy “strictly prohibited the use of warning shots” and firing from a moving vehicle. The new consensus policy allows for warning shots and allows shooting at a moving vehicle when the vehicle is being used to hit someone or the person in the vehicle is threatening the officer or others with a weapon.
Not every law enforcement agency agrees with the new consensus policy. One deputies’ association called it “a ridiculous piece of claptrap,” according to the Washington Post.
“It is the policy of this law enforcement agency to value and preserve human life”
In a joint statement, the National Sheriffs’ Association and the Major County Sheriffs’ Associations said “the model policy does not have national consensus” and that they would not be supporting it.
Sheriff Sandra Hutchens of Orange County and Greg Champagne of St. Charles Parish, La., said the policy was “well-intended” but that “a one-size-fits-all policy is impractical; what is proper and accepted in one city or county may be contrary to law and/or community tolerances in another.”
Responding to their statement, Cunningham said the policy “isn’t an IACP policy. This is a national consensus policy. We see administrators asking for it, and we see communities asking for it.”
A collaborative statement on de-escalation by IACP and FOP said, “We cannot reasonably expect law enforcement officers to walk away from potentially dangerous situations and individuals in the hope that those situations resolve themselves without further harm being done.”