Policing: Use of Deadly Force

Policing: Use of Deadly Force


Policing Practices

Pasadena-Area League Weighs in on Pasadena PD’s Use of Deadly Force Policy

In March, LWV-PA President Pat Coulter sent Pasadena Police Chief John Perez and City Councilmembers John Kennedy and Tyron Hampton a letter stating the League’s support for a state reform law’s language limiting the conditions under which law enforcement officers may use deadly force. Coulter cited both the California and the Pasadena-area Leagues’ support for the historic reform in response to the high number of police killings in California.

AB 392 became law in January of this year, establishing the legal standard to authorize police to use deadly force only when “necessary” to save human life. Previously, the law had authorized officers to use deadly force, like any other kind of force, when “reasonable.” In addition, new language requires that the conduct of the officer during the period leading up to the use of deadly force should be considered when evaluating the totality of the circumstances.

Unhappily, a political obstacle to implementing language that is compliant with the new law has arisen via the policy manuals sold to 95 percent of California law enforcement departments by Lexipol. Lexipol, which has close relationships with law enforcement, contends the law limiting officers’ use of deadly force is actually no change and officers may continue to use the former standard.

LWVC and numerous local Leagues are part of a statewide campaign to urge local police departments and governing bodies to implement the language of the law as passed. Coulter’s letter, also to be signed by an official of LWVC, is to be circulated to local Leagues as a model for use with local police departments and cities. The letter, requested by our Policing Practices Subcommittee, cites LWVC positions on the criminal justice system, policing practices, and collaboration between government and community-based programs in the criminal justice system.

Chief Perez has responded saying he hopes to work cooperatively with the League on the matter and welcomes our participation. Other Pasadena organizations working on police reform and faithful implementation of AB 392 language on use of deadly force include the ACLU Pasadena Chapter, NAACP, CICOPP (Coalition for Increased Oversight of Pasadena Police), POP! (Pasadenans Organizing for Progress), and local clergy.

—Kris Ockershauser, Chair, Policing Practices Subcommittee

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