The City of Brentwood has recently received several inquiries regarding the “8 Can’t Wait” campaign, which is being marketed nationwide. As Chief of Police, I wanted to address the Brentwood Police Department’s current policies and practices regarding the eight issues outlined in the campaign.
1. Ban Chokeholds & Strangleholds –
Choking or strangling individuals would be classified as deadly force given the likelihood of resulting in serious injury or death. Brentwood officers have never been trained or approved to use chokeholds or strangleholds. Officers have been trained and allowed to use the carotid control hold. The carotid control hold is used by applying pressure to the sides of the neck to restrict blood flow and render the individual quickly unconscious, and without injury. The carotid control hold has been an effective tool officers could use while taking violent subjects into custody. This week Governor Newsom directed the Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) to decertify California law enforcement courses that teach the carotid control hold.
On Monday June 8, 2020, I ordered our officers to cease the use of the carotid control hold. The use of the carotid control hold as an option for use has been removed from Brentwood Police Department Use of Force Policy (policy 300*). We contacted and worked directly with our POST consultant to assure that our training courses are compliant with Governor Newsom’s recent order.
2. Require De-Escalation –
Senate Bill 230 requires that “officers utilize de-escalation techniques, crisis intervention tactics, and other alternatives when feasible.” It is imperative that law enforcement officers attempt to de-escalate situations when the totality of the circumstances allows an opportunity to do so. Officers are able do that by trying to slow things down, being patient, listening, being empathetic and attentive to the person, and establishing communications with individuals by using simple dialogue all while being aware of interpersonal communications concerns such as eye contact, body language and personal space. Brentwood officers incorporate de-escalation techniques daily. Brentwood police officers have and will continue to train and implement best practices in de-escalation techniques.
3. Require Warning Before Shooting-
Law enforcement officers are frequently forced to make split-second decisions in tense, uncertain, rapidly evolving and dangerous situations. Courts across the country at all levels acknowledge that the most significant factor in determining whether force used by an officer was reasonable is whether there was an imminent threat to the safety of officers or others. To mandate that an officer must always issue a warning before using deadly force is simply not appropriate. Assembly Bill 392 states “where feasible, a peace 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-
Police officers are authorized to use deadly force to prevent an imminent threat of death or great bodily injury to themselves or others. To require officers to exhaust all other means before shooting is not realistic when split second decisions need to be made to prevent imminent death or great bodily injury to themselves or others. Brentwood officers have trained using stress inoculation which aids them in making the best decisions possible for each situation.
5. Duty to Intervene –
Per Brentwood Police Department policy (policy 300.2.1*), Brentwood police officers have a duty to intercede if they witness an unreasonable application of force. This is explicitly reviewed with every officer during their initial training, and is an ongoing component of our in-service training.
6. Ban Shooting at Moving Vehicles –
Banning shooting at moving vehicles is not appropriate as the totality of circumstances at an incident may require an officer to take such actions to prevent death or great bodily injury to themselves or others. Per Brentwood Police Department policy (policy 300.4.1*) – 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.
7. Require Use of Force Continuum –
The concept of a Use of Force Continuum is dated. California Penal Code Section 835a sets forth the criteria used in determining an appropriate use of force. All use of force must be “objectively reasonable” (the standard established in the landmark Graham v. Connor case and recently codified by AB392) under the “totality of the circumstances.”
8. Require Comprehensive Reporting –
In addition to documenting the circumstances of a use of force incident in a crime report, a separate Brentwood Police Department Use of Force form is completed by a supervisor following any use of force, including pointing a firearm at an individual. All use of force incidents are reviewed by the Brentwood Police Department Use of Force Review Board. Assembly Bill 71 requires that law enforcement agencies must report to the California Department of Justice all use of force incidents wherein a firearm was discharged, and all incidents in which a civilian died during a police encounter.
As Chief of Police for the City of Brentwood, I am committed to stay on the forefront of best practices and industry standards to keep our community and officers safe.
*Brentwood Police Department policy can be accessed for further reference of noted policies online at https://www.brentwoodca.gov/gov/police/default.asp
Chief of Police