Local Government

Sacramento City Council adopts stricter use-of-force policy for Sacramento Police Department

SACRAMENTO, Calif.  —  The Sacramento City Council has adopted a proposal that aims to make use of deadly force for Sacramento Police officers a “last resort” to be taken after exhausting all “reasonable alternatives.”

The proposal was supported by groups including the Sacramento Democratic Socialists of America and the Sacramento County Young Democrats. It was drafted in accordance with a recommendation filed by the Sacramento Community Police Review Commission, modified with additional language to define a “last resort.”

“A peace officer is justified in using deadly force upon another person only as a last resort and when reasonable alternatives have been exhausted or are not feasible and the officer reasonably believes, based on the totality of the circumstances, that such force is necessary,” the SCPRC wrote in its recommendation.

A “last resort,” as defined in SB 230 in the proposal from Darrell Steinberg, says police officers should use “tactics and techniques that may persuade the suspect to voluntarily comply or may mitigate the need to use a higher level of force to resolve the situation safely.”

“This proposal has the potential to bring many stakeholders together and allow us to state a clear position on what we think the standard for use of force should be,” Steinberg said. The original motion passed 8-1 after a motion from Councilmember Vang that sought to institute the SCPRC’s recommendation in its original form was defeated. Another motion filed to send the recommendation back to the SCPRC for amendment was also defeated.

Sacramento is home to numerous controversial officer-involved shootings including the deaths of Joseph Mann, Stephon Clark, and Darell Richards, police shootings that were highly scrutinized by legal experts and members of the public. The officers involved were ultimately never charged with wrongdoing, decisions that sparked protest from many concerned citizens across the city.

The 11-member SCPRC was formed by the city council in November of 2016 as part of a package of police reform efforts. The committee has no direct subpoena power, nor can they investigate cases, however, they can recommend policy changes to the city council.

Ethan Biando
Ethan Biando is a freelance journalist from Sacramento. His writing focuses on crime, courts, and policing. Find him on Twitter @ethanb822

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