By now everyone with an interest in law enforcement and mending the rifts in our fractured society has seen the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Those who have sworn to an Oath of Office realize that what happened that day has never been, is not now, or will ever be the true face of law enforcement. The outrage is justifiable and our profession’s response, depending on which city one patrols, has run the gamut from promises of reform to major budget cutting.
As you read this article, the National Police Foundation (NPF) is working with Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners (BOPC) to conduct an independent assessment of the Los Angeles Police Department’s response to the spontaneous protests resulting from this tragedy. We expect these two professional organizations will develop some objective recommendations to assist all law enforcement in meeting the increased expectations of community policing, race-relations, and proportional responses to uses of force. Our Department humbly acknowledges when we make mistakes, and this NPF report may identify areas where we can improve. We weigh all constructive criticism on the same scale as our accolades.
That said, the LAPD has never been a reactive agency. History has shown that our Department has been one of the most forward-thinking and progressive leaders in law enforcement. Proactive change is an unofficial Core Value since the 1965 Watts Riots. Reformers unaccustomed with LAPD policy are surprised to learn that the carotid restraint hold has been designated an immediate defense of life force option since 1982. Our Department has the most detailed use of force (UOF) policy in the Nation. Even a simple firm grip of an injured detainee will trigger a review process that goes through (at-minimum) four levels in a Bureau Chain of Command, before submission for additional, exhaustive analysis by the Critical Incident Review Division. If it is a Categorical Use of Force, the entire incident goes through additional analysis by the Office of the Chief of Police and the BOPC.