LAPD Now Requires Officers to ‘De-escalate’ Before Using Deadly Force

LAPD officers hold a skirmish line against members of Occupy Los Angeles, participating alongside planned May Day marches in downtown LA. 5/1/2012.  (Photo: Wikipedia)

The civilian-led Los Angeles Police Commission voted yesterday to require officers to “de-escalate” all situations before resorting to deadly force.

“Officers shall attempt to control an incident by using time, distance, communications and available resources in an effort to de-escalate the situation, whenever it is safe and reasonable to do so,” reads the addition to the department’s use of force policy.

The change comes as part of a two-year, high-profile campaign to curb the number of police-involved shootings in the city, according to the Los Angeles Times.

A Use of Force report from the LAPD found that an average of 44.6 officer-involved shootings took place in LA between 2011 and 2015. Only Chicago has a higher rate of police shootings.

The department already trains officers in de-escalation tactics and mandates that all officers carry Tasers. But the new policy would allow Police Chief Charlie Beck and the five-member Police Commission to discipline or fire an officer if they determine not enough was done to defuse the situation.

Police Commission President Matthew Johnson has said officers should still use deadly force when confronted by armed suspects, but he also expects more officers to be found out of policy for failing to de-escalate tense situations.

LA police unions have objected to the change. Craig Lally, the president of Los Angeles Police Protective League, said the commissioners are giving in to politics.

“These officers, a lot of them are shutting down because their career might be in danger. They might lose their house, their family, their kids because they make one bad move,” Lally told the LA Times. “If you make a mistake, you’re going to…go through hell for it.”

But social justice activists aren’t happy either.

Greg Akili, a community organizer and former legislative staffer from South Los Angeles who has been active in the Black Lives Matter movement, told the Times he doesn’t believe the commission was willing to “rock the boat” to bring about substantial change.

Akili believes the current standard for justifying police shootings is too low, such as an officer thinking someone was going for his or her gun.

“That bar has to be raised,” Akili said.

Johnson has worked to balance both sides. He believes the commission has a “moral obligation to preserve life when we can,” but commissioners have also participated in ride-alongs with officers to learn what kinds of threats the police face every day, according to the Times.

“We’ve been second-guessed by the Police Protective League and we’ve been second-guessed by activists that come to our meetings,” he said. “I won’t allow myself to have my decisions governed by whether I’m making someone happy or making someone upset.”

About the author: Jordan Michaels has been reviewing firearm-related products for over two years and enjoying them for much longer. With family in Canada, he’s seen first hand how quickly the right to self-defense can be stripped from law-abiding citizens. He escaped that statist paradise at a young age, married a sixth-generation Texan, and currently lives in Waco.

{ 19 comments… add one }
  • Dewey April 22, 2017, 9:34 am

    The police officer’s job is to de-escalate a situation, not go straight to the gun. This is precisely why prior military service should immediately disqualify an individual for police employment, as the military’s job is the polar opposite of the police. There is nothing at all improper about so-called civilian oversight of police since the police are civilians. The opposite of civilian is military, the police are not the military and are not under federal command, ergo, they are civilian.

    • Matt April 23, 2017, 12:32 pm

      Its interesting to hear someone’s opinion when they have no basis in fact. 23 years infantry. We are taught to de-escalate first.

    • Tom May 4, 2017, 4:00 am

      You have no idea what your talking about. Military has strict guidelines and can not just shoot people. So do police. 25 years, didn’t have to pull the trigger, could have many times but other ways were found often at higher risk to myself and others. This is the case for 99% of all cops. Last time I checked LAPD had roughly 3 000 officers. So do the math how many actually have to fire? My agency had 300 some, NYPD has what 20,000 plus. If we all shot when legally we could have but decided to take more risks instead, the body count would be in the thousands every year. I would probably have a 100 plus body count on my own. Between my close cop friends and I theres 250 plus of cop time nonr killed anyone and not because they werent in the shit, swat, gang unit, detectives, patrol, and other assignments. You have to make sure there is no other way for your own sole but things things often happen so fast it’s hard for a commission in the safety of the aftermath to get the full feel for what was going on. They don’t feel the emotion, no fear, no adrenaline, did I say fear, pain, all while trying to do the right thing. Yes over sight is important and so is descalation but the idea v thst ex military and cops just shoot people is nuts. Like I said do the math? The numbers don’t support that even a little bit.

    • Robert Smith May 11, 2017, 4:12 am


  • Glenn Dixon April 21, 2017, 5:49 pm

    Ain’t it wonderful when a bunch of civilians who’ve never rolled in the mud, blood, and the beer. Been there and done that! I don’t know s@#% from shineola about heart surgery, but hey put me be on a committee that tells heart surgeons how to perform heart surgeries!

    I retired as a Detective from one of the largest sheriff’s departments in the State of California. I remember when there were civic or legal groups that wanted a say on how to run our jail or influence/change some of our field related policies. To the credit of my old department, the five sheriffs I served under told these outside groups to pound sand; and, ‘Don’t go away mad, just go away!”

    Why did my department have that institutional mentality. It was because we had a very efficient internal affairs bureau and management that knew how to do their jobs. Cops are some of the HARDEST group of people on this earth to supervise and any law enforcement supervisor would concur. A bunch of civilians that couldn’t find their collective asses is gonna tell me how to make a split second life and death decision….please, don’t insult my intelligence!

  • David Church April 21, 2017, 4:58 pm

    The BLM people are hypocritical demanding the officers recognize a “moral obligation to preserve life when we can” while ignoring the fact and laws that a suspect must follow a lawful order to stop, put their hands behind their head, and to submit to the arrest without resistance. A police officer has a right to protect himself, and I personally believe in going back to the policy allowing the shooting of fleeing felons.

  • Mauser6863 April 21, 2017, 11:29 am

    I would guess we will see a lot more Taser use from now on. The mantra, “Early and often” will now be the standard for “Non-lethal” Taser use.

    Currently Taser use is at an all time high. Although it does save lives by giving officers another layer of force, around 800 people have died after being shot by this weapon.

    I disagree that U.S. Police will be disarmed anytime soon. The reason for the number of dead suspects in LA is simple, it’s the people that live there, not the police.

  • Maha April 21, 2017, 10:36 am

    Anyone with a connection to Black Lives Matter should be completely disregarded. They are anti-cop, racist, their whole organization germinated from a lie, and they should be investigated as terrorists.

  • john creveling April 21, 2017, 10:19 am

    What happens when you call a cop and no one comes?Police departments are going to find it harder and harder to find new recruits to fill the vacancies left from veterans leaving the job.Why put yourself in that position?With some bleeding hart liberal Monday morning quarterback deciding your fate?No cop WANTS to shoot ANYBODY bit their job is to go home to their families after the shift.All cops want to “de-escalate”any situation instead of going hands on.Talking a suspect in to handcuffs is a lot more preferable to a physical confrontation.Are there bad cops out there?You bet.In any segment of society there are bad apples and any cop CONVICTED of misusing the badge should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.When you wear a badge and a gun you should be held to a very high standard because you are responsible for public safety.

  • Bob April 21, 2017, 8:33 am

    Greg Akili, a community organizer and former legislative staffer from South Los Angeles who has been active in the Black Lives Matter movement, told the Times he doesn’t believe the commission was willing to “rock the boat” to bring about substantial change.
    Sorry but you lost me right there. If this person is a member of the black lives matter movement he has absolutely zero credibility. Do not acknowledge the BS flowing from his mouth.

  • Cea April 21, 2017, 8:17 am

    It’s just a matter of time before LEO’s across the country will be unarmed. They will be nothing more than professional witnesses.
    The loony left are just waiting for this. Then, and only then, when all hell breaks out and society’s scum bags run wild, they will wonder what happened to their plan for world peace…I.E. no guns. Why everything in their world has turned to crap!

  • Joe April 21, 2017, 8:01 am

    I support law enforcement as they have an unenviable task involving dealing with the unexpected. That being said some police are too quick to pull the trigger on those not engaged in immediate hostile actions. This is a tough issue for me and I’ll leave it at that.

  • Treecop April 21, 2017, 7:01 am

    Constitutional Use of Force is regulated by Graham v Conner. This directive does nothing to change the “reasonable officer standard.”

  • Johnny tengunns April 21, 2017, 6:50 am

    Yep this is in reaction to the planned mayday snowflake rallies that will be held throughout the land after all the snowflakes descalate all the time …NOT….and can’t have the police strongarming them otherwise think about the lawsuits and the loss of coloring books and crayons in the ensuing scuffles ….

  • Jesse Scott April 21, 2017, 5:41 am

    Have Akili stand in front of a cop in the next applied force scenario. Let him ‘de – escalate’ the situation.

  • SuperG April 19, 2017, 11:42 am

    The snowflakes are going to get a lot of cops killed.

    • Alex April 19, 2017, 12:50 pm

      To contrast, many lives – civilian and officer – may be saved. That is also in addition to many lawsuits that will be avoided. Bottom line, if there is time and opportunity to use de-escalation language (Ex: “I’m here now. I want to help. What do you need from me?”), than you need to try it. The police officers in this article make it sound like they will be fired on the spot for saying the wrong thing during an honest attempt to de-escalate. That is not the issue and they know it!

      • Slingblade April 21, 2017, 11:44 am

        Trust me, you are wasting your time…logic means nothing to the mindless, indoctrinated worshipers who will do anything to help these “heroes” get their job done…which is to just get home safely every night BTW! What a joke!

      • FALPhil April 21, 2017, 12:28 pm

        Thanks for being a voice of reason in the comments, Alex. There were so many idiotic replies in this thread, I began to despair that suddenly, gun owners’ IQs had dropped 20 points.

        If de-escalation had been normalized in the 1980s, there probably wouldn’t be a BLM today. There have been way too many cops and innocent/misdemeanor citizens killed because of a lack of de-escalation. We also need to shed no-knock warrants and civil asset forfeiture.

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