The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors is scheduled to vote Tuesday on whether to ask law enforcement agencies countywide to adopt a slightly modified version of “8 Can’t Wait” use-of-force policies that includes restricting chokeholds, strangleholds, carotid holds and neck restraints of any kind.
Supervisors Janice Hahn and Mark Ridley-Thomas filed the motion in support of the eight reforms recommended by the advocacy group Campaign Zero for the board’s May 9th meeting, but then asked to postpone the matter.
The motion calls on Sheriff Alex Villanueva and 46 police departments across Los Angeles County to review their use-of-force policies and “adapt them to be consistent with” the Campaign Zero recommendations.
Reaction to the suggested reforms has been mixed. Supporters include influential celebrities like Oprah Winfrey and Ariana Grande, but some civil rights advocates say the policies don’t work.
Dignity & Power Now — part of a coalition of civil rights groups that succeeded in convincing the board not to proceed with plans for a women’s jail in Lancaster and a massive mental health jail downtown — believes the policies don’t go far enough.
“We are way past the moment where these demands are acceptable,” Dignity & Power Now said in a statement issued earlier this month, characterizing “8 Can’t Wait” as “failed reform points” that would amount to a “betrayal” by the county.
The nonprofit group instead supports recommendations laid out by a county task force the board established to identify alternatives to incarceration. Dignity & Power Now is also calling, like many advocacy groups, for elected officials to shift funding from law enforcement to community resources and programs, putting forth “The People’s Budget LA” as a template.
Hahn and Ridley-Thomas have revised their motion to recommend restricting or prohibiting the use of all types of neck restraints, including “knee-on-neck maneuvers.” The revised version also calls for the Office of Inspector General to analyze the LASD’s force policies as to whether they comply with the eight reforms and report back to the board in 15 days.
Sheriff Alex Villanueva declared his support for the “8 Can’t Wait” policies in a tweet May 8, posting that “@LASDHQ has been at the forefront of Use of Force training. Campaign Zero echoes the #LASD use of force principles and we encourage all law enforcement to mirror our 21st Century use of force policies.”
In a town hall meeting, the sheriff told Lancaster and Palmdale residents, “We have adopted the principles of all 8” of the recommendations, though not the exact language.
The sheriff has said the department now restricts the use of carotid artery restraints to situations that require deadly force. However, the LASD use-of-force policies posted online at pars.lasd.org/Viewer/Manuals/11239 do not yet reflect that change.
The Los Angeles Police Department is already reviewing its force policy and has temporarily banned the use of chokeholds. State Assembly Bill 1196, sponsored by Assemblyman Mike Gipson, D-Carson, seeks to make it illegal for police statewide to use chokeholds and carotid artery restraints.
Campaign Zero, which is led by Black Lives Matter activist DeRay Mckesson, data scientist Samuel Sinyangwe and policy advocate Brittany N. Packnett Cunningham, offers data showing that police killings have dropped dramatically in cities that have embraced the “8 Can’t Wait” policies. However, some analysts question whether factors other than the policies contributed to those decreases.
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