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Sacramento Police Must Improve Use-Of-Force Policies, California DOJ Report Says

Rich Pedroncelli / AP Photo

In the wake of the shooting death of Stephon Clark by Sacramento police, Sacramento Police Chief Daniel Hahn discusses some of the questions posed by the Sacramento City Council of how to prevent such incidents, Tuesday, April 10, 2018.

Rich Pedroncelli / AP Photo

In a review brought about by last year’s fatal police shooting of Stephon Clark, the California Department of Justice recommended on Tuesday more than 60 reforms for the Sacramento Police Department, including some related to de-escalation techniques, officer use of force and investigating misconduct.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced his department’s 97-page review at a press conference with Mayor Darrell Steinberg and Police Chief Daniel Hahn.

The report offers a breadth of reforms, including that the department should end “problematic” uses of force, including carotid holds or firing weapons from moving vehicles, in addition recommending more officer training and a policy that an outside agency investigate "serious uses of force."

Becerra said the department should ”place greater emphasis on teaching officers to have a guardian mindset, meaning that officers emphasize communication over commands and cooperation over compliance..

The DOJ’s review also found that some investigating officers had different levels of training and  some were not thorough with their work.

The practices of other departments were also cited, including Seattle, which prohibits officers from removing their guns from their holsters if no one is at threat of being harmed.  

Hahn said the department has already created a research and development division to look at reforms and has made some of the DOJ’s recommended changes. But he was noncommittal as to whether he would institute each of them.

"I know one of them refers to something a department in [Washington], D.C., is doing. So my guess is my research folks will fly out to D.C. and see exactly how they implement it, what training they have, their policies and then we'll determine whether it works here," he said.

There was praise in the report, including for how some officers had de-escalated situations or employed tactics that resulted in a safe outcome. For instance, it cited that officers had increased the safety of all involved when they took cover, kept their distance and waited patiently for an encounter to be resolved. 

The report states that Hahn’s department should perform more community outreach events and develop its “Early Intervention Program” to recognize safe and ethical police practices by employees.

The DOJ credited the department for requiring more training than recommended by Peace Officers Standards & Training guidelines.   

The attorney general announced its review of the department last March, after two officers shot and killed Clark. Becerra says the Clark shooting was not one of the cases reviewed.

Read the full DOJ report here:

Bob Moffitt

Sacramento Region Reporter

Bob reports on all things northern California and Nevada. His coverage of police technology, local athletes, and the environment has won a regional Associated Press and several Edward R. Murrow awards.   Read Full Bio 

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