L.A. Police Commission Adopts New Use of Force Rules Aimed at Decreasing Officer Involved Shootings

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The Los Angeles Police Commission voted Tuesday to require officers to try, whenever possible, to defuse tense encounters before firing their guns — a policy shift that marks a significant milestone in the board’s attempts to curb shootings by police.

New LAPD officers march at their graduation ceremony in the summer of 2016. (Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

The new rules formally incorporate a decades-old concept called “de-escalation” into the Los Angeles Police Department’s policy outlining how and when officers can use deadly force. As a result, officers can now be judged specifically on whether they did all they could to reduce tensions before resorting to their firearms.

Tuesday’s vote caps a 13-month effort by the Police Commission to revise the policy. Two sentences will be added to the department’s manual, the first of which tells officers they must try to de-escalate a situation — “whenever it is safe and reasonable to do so” — by taking more time to let it unfold, moving away from the person and trying to talk to him or her, and calling in other resources.

Not everyone supported the new policy, however. The American Civil Liberties Union sent the commission a letter before Tuesday’s meeting expressing concern the revisions did not go far enough to explicitly state that de-escalation would be considered when determining whether an officer’s use of force was reasonable.

Read the full story at LATimes.com.

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