Police brutality complaints costly in Long Beach California.

Long Beach California is no stranger to complaints of police brutality including the use of excessive force, sexual harassment, illegal search and seizure activities and bias-based policing to name a few of the more common negative policing actions. Legal claims have cost the city enormous funds as reflected by the recent $9 million-dollar award, which is among the largest in city history, given to the family of a Sinuon Pream.  Ms. Pream struggled with mental illness and was met by excessive force during a police encounter where she was shot seven times by Long Beach Police in 2017.  In another costly incident, a federal jury awarded $620,000 to a Long Beach man who says he was beaten, choked and shocked with a stun gun by city police officers during a 2011 traffic stop.  These are only two of the costly cases with numerous less visible complaints strewn between those years.

The City of Long Beach should evaluate its fiscal policies to find a better use for preventative funding of positive policing initiatives rather than paying court damages for lives that cannot be given back. 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.

Excessive force complaints versus de-escalation.

Excessive force complaints are taking over news headlines, filling court dockets with suits for various forms of police brutality and causing a number of injuries and deaths at the hands of police officers who are sworn to protect and serve the communities in which these negative policing activities occur.  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.”  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 new 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 department 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 Long Beach 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.

Contact a lawyer.

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 Long Beach 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://news.vice.com/en_us/article/kz9bve/california-cops-are-pissed-about-the-states-new-racial-profiling-law

https://lewisbrisbois.com/assets/uploads/files/OC_Lawyer%2C_Article_on_Excessive_Force_Claims.pdf

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