LA County Supervisor Reconsiders Support for '8 Can't Wait' Force Policies


LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas today withdrew a motion suggesting that law enforcement agencies countywide adopt a slightly modified version of “8 Can't Wait'' use-of-force policies – including restricting chokeholds, strangleholds and carotid holds.

Ridley-Thomas and Supervisor Janice Hahn filed the motion in support of the eight reforms recommended by the advocacy group Campaign Zero for the board's May 9 meeting, but then asked to postpone the matter. On Tuesday morning, Ridley-Thomas asked that the matter be referred back to his office for reconsideration.

Reaction to the suggested reforms has been mixed. Supporters include influential celebrities including Oprah Winfrey and Ariana Grande, but some civil rights advocates say the policies don't work.

Kim McGill, of the Youth Justice Coalition, told the board Tuesday that the “8 Can't Wait'' policies fall short of meaningful change and asked for a dramatic shift in county spending.

“We urge a more robust vision for what it means to end police violence in L.A. County,'' McGill said. “We urge instead that you defund the sheriff and probation, including immediately moving $600 million out of probation and transferring young people out of probation's care and custody ... into the youth development department.''

Those probation dollars could be better invested in youth and community development programs countywide, McGill argued.

It was not immediately clear whether Ridley-Thomas' move was in reaction to such criticism. Motions are sometimes referred back when there is insufficient support to pass the measure.

Dignity & Power Now -- which like the Youth Justice Coalition was among the 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 -- also 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 established by the board to identify alternatives to incarceration. Dignity & Power Now has put forth “The People's Budget LA'' as a template for how elected officials could shift funding from law enforcement to community resources and programs.

The aim of the motion originally submitted by Ridley-Thomas and Hahn was to ask 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.

Hahn and Ridley-Thomas had 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 called for the Office of Inspector General to analyze the LASD's force policies as to whether they comply with the eight reforms.

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 http://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.

Photo: Getty Images


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