Police Commission Orders More Transparency for LAPD

By Kenrya Rankin Oct 12, 2016

The Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners, the civilian body that oversees the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), voted yesterday (October 11) to rethink how the department uses—and reports—force.

Last November, the five-person body tasked the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) with reviewing the department’s use of force policies, investigation techniques and training alongside those of other departments across the country. The final report—which compares the department to those in Dallas, Las Vegas, San Diego and Washington, D.C.—was presented at the Commission’s weekly meeting.

Members subsequently voted to approve the recommendations made in the report, which include increasing “reality-based” use of force and de-escalation training, creating a new protocol for determining what information is shared with the public following officer-involved shootings, and working with community members to draft a new release policy for videos that capture use of force incidents.

“After a shooting occurs, there are often questions from the community—and rightfully so—about what happened and whether the shooting was necessary,” Commissioner Sandra Figueroa-Villa told the Los Angeles Times. “I believe transparency is vitally important in addressing those concerns.”

While the officers’ union reportedly decried the changes as the actions of “a group of pandering apologists in support of misinformed professional protesters,” department officials signaled their agreement with the decision. Per the Times:

They noted that the department was already reviewing training and revising its policies to specifically require that officers, when possible, try to defuse tense encounters before firing their guns. The policy changes were ordered by the commission earlier this year.

“It’s important to reach out, it’s important to realize that not everything is invented here, and it’s important to look into other agencies’ experiences so that we can make this the best police department it can possibly be,” Chief Charlie Beck said.

The decision comes on the heels of several high profile shootings of people of color, including the October 1 death of Carnell Snell Jr. at the hands of an LAPD officer.