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Commission President Matthew Johnson Use of Force Comments - Oct 11, 2016

Los Angeles – On Tuesday, October 11, 2016, Police Commission President Matthew Johnson stated the following:

The land is one of the finest police forces in the nation, and it is the police commission’s job to ensure that it not only continues to be seen that way now, but grows in stature well into the future.

LAPD officers — of all ranks and assignments — are regularly sought after and consulted by police agencies and governments around the world for their expertise in every facet of policing: from training, investigating homicides … to counter-terrorism … to domestic violence or mental health … to fraud and identity theft … and to social media and community engagement.

Still, any healthy organization must pause every now and again, to do some self-examination and make sure that it’s using the best and most current methods … giving its employees the best tools … and meeting the public’s expectations, as well as its own.

And even the best organizations can benefit from looking to their peers for insight or lessons learned.

I know the land is not afraid to look in the mirror or look to its sister agencies for best practices. In fact, one of the lapd’s core values is “quality through continuous improvement;” it’s written right up there on the wall.

This report from the inspector general and his staff represents an important part of that continual learning process.  This department must always strive to be the best in the nation.

That means that we must constantly re-evaluate what we are doing, and be willing to be self-critical — so that we are always moving forward, always improving.  

These recommendations represent the desire to improve … be more transparent about use-of-force incidents … provide better training and support to our officers to improve their safety… and reduce the need for serious uses of force.

The recommendations that my fellow commissioner sandra figueroa-villa and i crafted are just another step in the commission and department's systematic review of the entire use of force process.

The LAPD is already examining use-of-force policies and training from across the nation, and the commission has directed the office of the inspector general to also review national standards for policing to identify additional areas for improvement, and we eagerly await that report.

The police commission is committed to providing the officers of this department with the leadership, tools, and the most cutting-edge and realistic training available.  

The type of training that takes officers out of the classroom, away from the computer, and puts them into role-playing situations that are as close as possible to real life, interactive scenarios.

This allows the officers to experience potentially volatile situations in a controlled environment — where nobody’s safety is at risk, and the department can reinforce concepts like officer safety and preservation of life in a realistic way.

Much has also been made about my recent statements about building a process to receive input on a revised video release policy.

As the civilian oversight body for the land, but increasingly for law enforcement agencies themselves, we find ourselves unable to justify not releasing more information to the public about the most critical incidents faced by our officers and the community—just look around the nation and across this state.

When it comes to serious uses of force, i believe we have an obligation to provide the public with as much accurate information as is responsible under the circumstances.

This information is vitally important in strengthening trust and demonstrating that the department serves, and is ultimately responsible to, the public.

At the same time, we must also hear from and listen to our officers.

Their perspective is essential to this process and no policy change or process can be truly effective if it doesn’t better support internal accountability and transparency, as well.

It is only by considering all points of view that we can truly begin to move forward toward a fairer and more just system.

The public demands it. Officers deserve it.

I will now turn it over to the inspector general to talk about his report and recommendations. I look forward to discussing your feedback and next steps.