The Anaheim Police Department was cited in a 2017 report by the ACLU and ranked 9th among the 60 largest U.S. cities in 2015, due to deaths during arrests where officers were involved; the rate of police- involved deaths per million beat out San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, Boston and Atlanta in 2016, and the California Department of Justice revealed staggering 2017 statistics to include the police officer-involved killing of 172 Californians where more than two-thirds were persons of color and of those individuals that were unarmed, three-fourths were persons of color.  Why are excessive force complaints, and those involving tragic deaths, taking over news headlines in every corner of the United States?  Anaheim Police hope to reduce excessive force complaints and regain community trust.

Anaheim Police Department React to Call for Change.

The Anaheim Police Department has reacted to the concern by California law makers through changes in policy that adapt mandatory de-escalation training techniques.  The Department’s “use of force” policy dictates that officers may use reasonable force when carrying out their duties but must have an understanding for their authority and limitations, especially with regard to overcoming resistance during an encounter, and maintaining respect for human life and dignity without prejudice.  An officer who witnesses another officer exceeding reasonable force during an encounter must intercede when possible without danger or injury to anyone present, and immediately report that behavior to their superior.  Officers who are reported for excessive force will be judged from the perspective of a reasonable officer’s use of force at the time of the incident.

Bill Addressing Excessive and Deadly Force.   

More recently California is making attempts to change the law with hopes of incorporating AB392 which is a bill that outlines when police should use deadly force – only when they have no alternative to that path.  The bill is modeled after other police departments in the United States who have had reductions in police killings utilizing de-escalation techniques to be used whenever it is possible.  Officer’s need to be aware of the impact of their actions leading up to the moment when deadly force is justified, and they will be judged on that interaction with police-involved killing investigations.  Law enforcement agencies who have implemented and use stricter “use of force” policies reveal a reduction in deaths by police officers who are less likely to be killed or sustain serious injury during encounters, without increased in officer injuries or crime rates in those agency communities.

De-escalation Training.

The State of California, through the Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training, has mandated de-escalation training for its police departments for two hours every two years.  In addition to the de-escalation training, 24 total hours of other required training every two years in areas such as arrest and control, driving, firearms and force options simulations are required along with courses in domestic violence and CPR every two years, and racial profiling/racial diversity every five years.  Intensive and continuous professional encounter training programs should be made available to all police officers, so they can “reasonably” respond to stressful situations in the field during encounters with all types of citizens.  Reports of mental health crises all over the United States are in the news almost daily, and de-escalation training is one avenue to slow an inflammatory situation down during a stressful encounter.  The Department of Justice defines “de-escalation” as “the strategic slowing down of an incident in a manner that allows officers more time, distance, space and tactical flexibility during dynamic situations on the street.”  Training methods for police officers include: 1) Listen respectfully; 2) Crowd control; 3) Courteous example; 4) Body language reducing intimidation; 5) Control offensive talking or action during encounter; 6) Don’t publicly humiliate anyone and be respectful; 7) Don’t waste time and energy trying to convince a citizen that he’s wrong and you’re right; 8) Remember that “broken record” is a useful way to achieve two goals—conveying the message that you’re in charge while keeping the lid on a potential conflict.

Transparency.

A California law that took effect January 1, 2019 allows public access to police records in use-of-force cases.  Senate Bill 1421 requires the availability to the public of “any record relating to an incident in which a sustained finding was made by any law enforcement agency or oversight agency of dishonesty by a peace officer or custodial officer directly relating to the reporting, investigation, or prosecution of a crime, or directly relating to the reporting of, or investigation of misconduct by, another peace officer or custodial officer, including, but not limited to, any sustained finding of perjury, false statements, filing false reports, destruction, falsifying, or concealing of evidence.”  The hope is that the transparency of police activity will help restore the public trust and make officers more aware of the importance of their behaviors during encounters with the citizens they protect and serve. California was the only state to lock internal investigations based on citizen complaints away from the public until this new law.

Racial and Identity Profiling Act of 2015

California passed a law requiring departments to log data for each stop of a citizen, including the time, date, location, and reason, as well as the “perceived race or ethnicity, gender, and approximate age of the person that was stopped,” and whether the officer took any further action to search that person.

Policy Compliance.

The Anaheim Police Department complies with all state regulations prohibiting biased-based profiling and provides training on legal aspects and issues with profiling that cause negative community relations.  Cultural diversity and awareness education courses are offered to service officers during their field-training.  Corrective measures are identified and executed when bias-based profiling occurs. The Anaheim Police Department is committed to providing law enforcement services to the community with due regard for the racial, cultural or other differences of those served. It is the policy of this department to provide law enforcement services and to enforce the law equally, fairly, objectively and without discrimination toward any individual or group.

Contact a Lawyer.

If you feel you have been a victim of excessive force by a police officer in Anaheim California, you should immediately contact a lawyer to review your case to see if you can sue for damages.  Damages may include hospital/medical expenses; past and future permanent disability payments; emotional distress including depression and anxiety; loss of enjoyment of life; physical pain and suffering; and loss of love and companionship due to a death or serious injury caused by police brutality through excessive force.

Sources:

https://codes.findlaw.com/ca/penal-code/pen-sect-422-6.html

https://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/amendmentxiv

https://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/fourth_amendment

https://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/first_amendment

http://govred.com/blog/deescalation-training-state-requirements/

https://action.aclu.org/send-message/ca-asm-deadly-use-of-force?ms_aff=CN&initms_aff=CN&ms_chan=eml&initms_chan=eml

https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2841872

https://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-aclu-anaheim-police-report-20171120-story.html