Following the death of George Floyd at the hands of former Minneapolis Officers, we received several inquiries from the community about our policies, practices, and training. Individuals and organizations who are seeking police reform are advocating for police departments to adopt 8 policies that they believe will save lives (www.8cantwait.org).
While our staff is very aware of our policies and expectations on this important topic, we conducted a review to see how closely they align with these 8 pillars. We are pleased to share our findings with you.
It should be noted that many of these issues were addressed with the passage of AB 392 and SB 230 last year. AB 392 set a new legal standard for peace officers’ use of deadly force in California and SB 230 established a minimum use of force policy standard for all departments.
Below are the policies that the 8 Can’t Wait initiative proposes for all law enforcement agencies and where the Lincoln Police Department stands. Our use of force policy can be viewed here.
1 - Ban chokeholds and strangleholds
These techniques (including the Carotid Control Hold) are not permitted in our use of force policy. (Prior to this week our policy did allow this technique for any officer who had been trained by LPD on its use, however, we don’t train that technique so no one could use it. It has now been removed)
2 - Require de-escalation
Several of our policies refer to de-escalation, including our policies for crisis intervention, conducted energy devices (Tasers), mental illness, and civil disputes. Additionally, all of our officers attend an eight-hour Crisis Intervention and de-escalation course and are required to attend a refresher course every two years. This is in addition to the training received in the academy and during their Field Training Program.
3 - Require warning before shooting
Our policy (300.4) and Penal Code section 835(a) state that “where feasible, the officer shall, prior to the use of force, make reasonable efforts to identify themselves as a peace officer and to warn that deadly force may be used, unless the officer has objectively reasonable grounds to believe the person is aware of those facts”.
4 - Exhaust all other means before shooting
Our policy (300.4) requires that officers evaluate the use of other reasonably available resources and techniques when determining whether to use deadly force, and deadly force is only to be used when there is an imminent threat of death or serious injury to the officer or another person. As such this section incorporates the “objectively reasonable officer” standard and tacitly acknowledges that an officer is only required to use non-deadly force if it is reasonably safe and feasible for the officer to do so without endangering the officer’s life or the lives of others. These standards are also covered in Penal Code section 835(a)(2).
5 - Duty to intervene and stop excessive force by other officers
The Lincoln Police Department requires an officer who views excessive force to intervene when in a position to do so. The policy also requires the officer to report their observations to a supervisor promptly. The requirement is covered in our policy under section 300.2.1.
6 - Ban shooting at moving vehicles
Our policy (300.4.1) only allows this in the following circumstances: An officer should only discharge a firearm at a moving vehicle or its occupants when the officer reasonably believes there are no other reasonable means available to avert the threat of the vehicle, or if deadly force other than the vehicle is directed at the officer or others. Officers should move out of the path of an approaching vehicle instead of discharging their firearm at the vehicle or any of its occupants.
7 - Require use-of-force continuum
The Department recognizes and respects the value of all human life and dignity without prejudice to anyone. Vesting officers with the authority to use reasonable force and to protect the public welfare requires monitoring, evaluation and a careful balancing of all interests.
A use of force continuum does not require officers to start with one level of force before moving to another. Our policies, state law, and case law require officers to use only that amount of force that reasonable appears necessary given the facts and totality of the circumstances.
8 - Require comprehensive reporting
The Lincoln Police Department requires officers to thoroughly document any use of force in a police report and to notify a supervisor as soon as practical. Additionally, uses of force resulting in serious bodily injury are reported to the California Department of Justice annually.
As you can see the differences in their recommendations and our policies are very minor in nature. Because of these solid policies and our very dedicated and professional employees, we enjoy a great relationship with our community. Our commitment to you is that we will continue to look inward to make sure we continue to perform at the highest level. Thank you for your continued support.