Police Chief Charlie Beck said Monday all of the department’s police officers will be trained in the next month on ways to de- escalate potentially violent encounters as part of a “national conversation” on police use of force, as well as in response to the fatal police shooting of Ezell Ford in South Los Angeles.
The five-hour-long training session, which will be conducted at all 21 police divisions, began today with Topanga Division officers at the New Community Jewish High School in West Hills. Northeast Division officers also received training today, LAPD officials said.
The training will focus on “preservation of life,” which includes looking at “what is legitimate use-of-force” and the “goal of police use-of- force,” Beck said.
“We’ve always said preservation of life is the number one thing in policing,” Beck said. “It’s not only about preserving your own life — it’s about preserving the life of the people we come in contact with.”
Beck characterized the sessions not as retraining, but as a refresher course on department policies.
The Aug. 11, 2014, shooting of Ford, an unarmed, 25-year-old black man who relatives said was mentally ill, “did have an impetus” for the training, “but it’s not the sole reason,” said Beck, who insisted the department would have conducted the training anyway.
Beck said the Ford shooting “is an important incident in the history of the Los Angeles Police Department” and is part of a “national conversation” prompted by police shootings nationwide, all of which “impact the way a Los Angeles police officers feel about their job.”
“We have to recognize this is not an issue that is just about other places. It’s about here, too,” he said.
Officers will be trained on dealing with members of the public who are mentally ill, including de-escalation techniques and “the role our clinicians play in assisting officers in the field,” according to LAPD spokesman Cmdr. Andy Smith.
Beck said the officers will also learn about the history of the relationship between Los Angeles police officers and the public, and the practice of community policing.
Beck said he made a personal appearance at today’s training event to send a message to police officers that “this is something that not only I support, but that I believe in,” as well as to show the public the LAPD “takes this moment in time very seriously.”
— City News Service
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