LAPD Officers Face New Limits on Using Guns, Force

The Los Angeles Police Commission Tuesday approved a revision to the LAPD's Use of Force policy -- that now urges officers to try to "de-escalate" confrontations before using violence.

It's an enhancement of a longstanding LAPD rule of, "reverence for life," and is intended to try to further reduce the number of times officers fire their guns.

"It reaffirms the Commission and the Department's commitment to de-escalating incidents without compromising officer safety or their ability to safeguard the community," said Commission president Matt Johnson.

The new policy line said:

"Officers shall attempt to control an incident using time, distance, communications, and available resources in an effort to de-escalate the situation, whenever it is safe and reasonable to do so."

State and federal laws governing officers' use of force and self defense remain unchanged.

The shift, however, creates new criteria for how the Police Commission evaluates the performance of an officer following a shooting or other significant use of force -- and for how the Chief of Police decides if the officer was within policy.

Commissioner Cynthia McClain-Hill said she supported the new version, but said she thought the idea of de-escalation remained an abstract goal -- rather than an explicit requirement of officers.

"I believe that as far as this goes it achieves a great deal," she said.

"I believe that we can go further and that explicitly identifying de-escalation so that it is clear for anyone who picks up our policy," she said.

-- Eric Leonard (@LeonardFiles) at LAPD Headquarters

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