Don Thompson, Associated Press
(AP) — Sacramento police announced Monday that they are discouraging dangerous foot pursuits of suspected criminals after a chase led to the fatal shooting of Stephon Clark, an unarmed black man, in March.
The new policy is being presented to the Community Police Review Commission Monday night. The commission is also expected to vote on recommendations to improve diversity in the Sacramento Police Department and use of force training and policies.
Under the new policy, Sacramento officers must consider their own safety, danger to the public and suspect and the importance of making an arrest. Officers must start their body-worn cameras and broadcast why they are beginning the chase and a description of the suspect.
Pursuing officers or their supervisor can break off pursuits at any time "if the risk of pursuing outweighs the need for apprehension."
Police are required to constantly consider their surroundings and reevaluate the chase if the suspect enters a building, enclosed space or dangerous terrain. They also must consider whether they have other officers backing them up.
"Officer and public safety should be the overriding consideration in determining whether a foot pursuit will be initiated, continued or terminated," the policy says.
The policy, adopted July 26, requires officers to identify themselves as police and order the suspect to stop. The new rule also says no officer shall be disciplined for failing to give chase or for calling one off.
Critics say two officers failed to identify themselves before chasing and killing 22-year-old Clark. They suspected him of breaking into cars and a home and say they thought he had a gun.
But he was found holding only a cellphone when he was shot in the darkened backyard of his grandparents' home.
His death set off mass protests that drew national attention and continue intermittently.
The department's use of force committee, made up of community members and officers, patterned the policy on those adopted by other departments across the country.
Sacramento police, the district attorney's office and the state attorney general's office have not yet completed their reviews of Clark's shooting, nor faulted the two pursuing officers for killing him.
Mayor Darrell Steinberg had asked new police Chief Daniel Hahn to evaluate the department's foot-pursuit policy and training after the shooting.
The commission is also expected to vote on recommendations to improve diversity in the Sacramento Police Department and use of force training and policies Monday.
Some of the recommendations include annual de-escalation training, hiring of a third party to review body camera footage, and quarterly tracking and publication of use-of-force incidents.
"There may be some of the recommendations that the police department might want to give some feedback on as to whether they're currently already implemented or potentially not even capable of being implemented because of the law or something else," said Francine Tournour, Director of the Office of Public Safety and Accountability.
The Community Police Review Commission is also expected to review ideas to improve diversity within the police department Monday night.
"They're looking to get some direction from the entire commission hiring practice of the police department as well as any retention to deal with more diverse members,” Tournour said.
Those ideas include diversity classes, reviews of recruitment and qualification materials for gender bias and requirements of Sac PD management who are non-unionized to live in the city.
CapRadio reporter Bob Moffitt contributed to this report.
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