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Commissioner Sandra Figueroa-Villa Comments Regarding LAPD’s Use Of Force Policy - Oct. 11, 2016

Los Angeles – On Tuesday, October 11, 2016, Police Commission Sandra Figueroa-Villa stated the following:

The Commission and the Department are ultimately accountable to the public and therefore it is important that we are constantly self-critical so that we are always improving.  We are also responsible for our officers, who have one of the most difficult and dangerous jobs in the country.

After a shooting occurs, there are often questions from the community – and rightfully so – about what happened and whether the shooting was necessary.  I believe transparency is vitally important in addressing those concerns.

I also want to make sure that we do not lose sight of the impact such incidents have upon our officers and their families.  We have a responsibility to them.  We have a responsibility to always, always ensure that we are taking care of their health and welfare after an incident and that requires us to constantly revisit whether we are providing the necessary time, counseling, training, or support to assist them.   The Department, I know, is constantly assessing how it can improve support to officers, as it should.  We should look around the country in an effort to ensure that we are doing absolutely everything to help them.

We must also pay special attention to the training officers receive before an incident.  Cutting edge training is essential for officer safety and essential for assisting officers in responding to situations.  Not every situation can be de-escalated.  Many times officers will have to use deadly force to defend themselves and others.  Many times there is not enough time to react without endangering oneself or the public.  De-escalation, however, is very important in situations where there is the time and space to accomplish it.  We must continually teach officers to distinguish between the two scenarios and give them the tools and training to effectively de-escalate a situation whenever possible.

This additional training and support not only benefits the officers, it directly benefits the community as well.  When we train our officers to approach every situation with the goal of resolving it as safely as possible for everyone involved, as well as give them the tools necessary to do so, we will get better outcomes on both sides.  Reducing the amount of force used by officers is beneficial not only to the individuals they are interacting with but it also can increase officer safety.  More importantly, this outcome helps strengthen the essential trust between the Department and the community more broadly.

It is so important that we consider the impact of our decisions on both the public and the officers.  I believe these recommendations do just that.