LA Police Commission calls for efforts to reduce officer involved shootings

Saying officer-involved shootings have nearly doubled since last year, the president of the Los Angeles Police Commission called today for efforts to help reduce such shootings and other use-of-force by officers.

Matt Johnson said the increase from 23 officer-involved shootings last year to 45 so far this year is an "alarming development."

"I believe we can work toward vastly reducing the number of use-of-force incidents through extensive training and modifying our tactics," he said.

Fellow commissioners, along with Los Angeles Police Department Chief Charlie Beck, threw their support behind Johnson's proposals, which include looking back on the past 10 years of shootings and use-of-force by Los Angeles police officers, along with the changes in training and policies that have occurred during that time.

Johnson asked for a comparison of Los Angeles' officer-involved shootings and other uses of force with those of other law-enforcement agencies around the country.

He also suggested taking a look at how the department might use more non-lethal weapons, such as stun guns and beanbag guns, during interactions with suspects carrying knives or other weapons that are not firearms, and with those who are mentally ill.

Also proposed was an annual reporting of use-of-force cases that would contain information to help the Police Commission review such cases and create policy. Johnson asked that a final draft of the reporting format be presented to the commission in 30 days.

Johnson also called on the Office of the Inspector General to monitor and report back on the effectiveness of police training programs and to create an audit plan for the department's use of body cameras.

These steps "will be tools to guide us on how and where we can improve the department," Johnson said.

"Once we have this information, it will be our collective responsibility -- the department, this commission and the community -- to use it to continue the reform efforts that began with the consent decree and to build the LAPD into the best trained, best equipped, most professional and most respected police organization in America," he said.

Commissioner Kathleen Kim said she "fully" supports Johnson's recommendations.

"In taking a critical look at use-of-force, it (Johnson's proposal) not only aims to reduce uses of force for public safety, but also for officer safety, and I think that's really critical to keep mind," she said.

She added she hopes "the role of race will also be looked at," and that there will be a "fresh look and a critical evaluation of the legal standards and the policies in place" around officer shootings and use-of-force.

Beck said he has been guiding the department in the same direction outlined under Johnson's proposal, and that it is "very heartening to see the commissioner and I share a vision of what needs to happen."

He said it would be "a good thing to compare us nationally," and also noted that while the number of police shootings has almost doubled, that number "is small compared to the number of contacts the police department makes."

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