The Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners decided Tuesday to take additional comments on a new policy regarding when officers are justified in using deadly force.
A new state law, AB 392, was signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom in August and takes effect at the beginning of the year. It establishes that police officers may only use deadly force when it is “necessary” to protect human life or to apprehend a known suspect who has committed deadly actions.
The law mentions various circumstances that require officers to consider circumstances at greater length before deciding whether to use deadly force, which includes but is not limited to the use of firearms.
Commissioners said they hadn’t had much time to review the proposed policy changes to the Los Angeles Police Department, and it voted unanimously to tentatively adopt the changes.
The commission will accept comments from the public and LAPD officers for 30 days, after which the commission will take two weeks to consider the comments, make adjustments to the policy and take another series of comments before officially adopting it.
Commissioners said they expect the process to finish in early February. Comments will be received on the LAPD website at www.lapdonline.org/use_of_force, and a link to the comment section is expected to go live at 5 p.m. Tuesday.
LAPD Chief Michel Moore said he reviewed letters that have already commented on the policy from community organizations.
“We believe that there is room (for changes), and certainly we should listen and be responsive to community input,” Moore said. The chief said it’s important that, “…our officers understand the certain circumstances when deadly force may be used or justified and certain circumstances where it could not.”
Moore said some tailoring of the law could create a policy that would be acceptable for the public and the LAPD officers.
Commissioner Dale Boner said he was hesitant to vote in favor of the new policy because he hadn’t had much time to review it and he wasn’t clear on what it could mean for officers who have to make split-second decisions.
“It leaves us with facing two bad choices,” Boner said. “We’re faced with the policy that … at least I’m not confident, is what it needs to be as of yet. And yet, we have a deadline that is looming, when the law is going to take effect, one way or the other.”
Boner said he wants to hear more from the public as well as the officers who will be affected by the policy.
Moore said the department’s and the Police Commission’s intent to “stand behind” each decision they make.
“We recognize the challenges we have and we’re up for it,” Moore said.
The LAPD website has logged 36 officer-involved shootings or critical incidents this year, most of which have a report and video explaining the incident.
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