In response to the abundance of excessive force complaints around the Nation, charging police with crimes against victims in their communities, 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.
What is de-escalation training? 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.” De-escalating 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. Excessive force claims settlements similar to the recent 4.75 million-dollar award in the neighboring Fresno area, and the longstanding history of complaints lodged against the Modesto Police Department may have prompted some of their reaction to be more transparent to the public regarding department policy to decrease excessive force and regain community trust, in concert with the new California law that took effect January 1, 2019 allowing 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.”
This law comes after years of secrecy in police departments regarding complaints and personnel records of accused police officers. It started in the 1970s when court cases started validating complaints from the public. At that point Los Angeles Police Department decided to shred personnel records causing criminal cases to be dismissed and laws emerged mandating that officer discipline records would be preserved. California was the only state to lock internal investigations based on citizen complaints away from the public until this new law.
Internal Affairs Facts. According to the Modesto Police Department 2017 Annual Review there were 195 use of force incidents, up from the 178 reported in 2016. Excessive force was claimed in a sting situation in 2017 where a man was killed driving away from the scene of a crime and his passenger was injured by police. After a formal review, prosecutors have determined that the two Modesto police officers used reasonable force when they shot a 21-year-old man during a drug bust in Turlock.
Policy Compliance. The Department complies with all 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.
Legal recourse. There are various federal and state laws including the First, Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments, Title 6 of the Civil Rights Act, Title 42 United States Code, Americans with Disabilities Act, California Penal Code 422.6 to name a few, that insure remedy to individuals who have suffered the negative effects of police brutality. If you feel you have been a victim of excessive force by a police officer in the Modesto California area, you should seek professional legal assistance to file a claim and have them 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.