San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer announced another police policy change influenced by public demand in the wake of the killing of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police in late May.
Floyd's death sparked protests in major cities and suburbs throughout the nation demanding not only prosecution of the officers involved, but sweeping police reform and non-biased policing in black communities and communities of color.
Last week, as thousands descended on the streets of downtown San Diego to demonstrate, Faulconer ordered emergency meetings hosted by two police review committees -- the Citizens Advisory Board on Police and Community Relations (CAB), the Community Review Board on Police Practices (CRB) -- centered on police policy change discussion. Faulconer and San Diego Chief of Police David Nisleit urged the public to participate in the meetings.
The public's demands for reform were also heard Monday when hundreds called into a city council meeting to voice their opposition to a $27 million increase in funding for SDPD laid out in the mayor's 2021 budget. The city council voted 8-1 in favor of the new budget, and protesters showed up to Faulconer's home shortly after and chanted “Shame on you” from the sidewalk.
“We heard the comments from the community, we heard the calls for reform, and I’m not waiting. We want to make lasting changes now, not a year from now," Faulconer said at Wednesday's announcement.
SDPD has been working on its de-escalation policy since last week, according to Faulconer, and he plans to introduce it alongside Nisleit next week.
On Thursday the San Diego County Police Chiefs' and Sheriff's Association announced similar de-escalation actions be taken on a county level. The association created a committee last year to combat issues surrounding crisis management and de-escalation, the committee implemented best practices, training and field de-escalation tactics and guidelines for use of force.
“Our mission was to not only define best practices for de-escalation but to do so collectively to ensure the county is of one mind on the philosophy,” stated the president of the association, Chula Vista Police Chief Roxana Kennedy. “As part of this community, we understand the importance of violence prevention whenever possible and de-escalation techniques are the best way to get there.”
Faulconer said the policy gives officers “clear rules of the road” on de-escalation and will help resolve conflicts with lower levels of force.
“It will be a policy that is based on best practices, a policy that will further the trust in the community, and a policy that will continue to keep our city safe," he said.
The San Diego County Police Chiefs' and Sheriff's Association de-escalation curriculum will train officers in every police agency in the county, such as the Sheriff's Department and city police departments.
Last Monday, Nisleit ordered a ban on the carotid restraint within his department, and several county law enforcement agencies followed suit before the week was over.
A bill is also being considered that would ban the restraint statewide.