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LA County Board Delays Vote On Force Policies, Seeks Health Regulations For Police

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Tuesday approved a number of proposals related to criminal justice reforms and police protests, but delayed a vote on a motion aimed at reforming use-of-force policies countywide.

Supervisors Janice Hahn and Mark Ridley-Thomas filed the motion in support of the 8 Can't Wait use-of-force policies recommended by Campaign Zero, an advocacy group led by Black Lives Matter activist DeRay Mckesson, data scientist Samuel Sinyangwe and policy advocate Brittany N. Packnett Cunningham.

The motion called on Sheriff Alex Villanueva and all law enforcement agencies across Los Angeles County to adopt the restrictions, which include limiting the use of chokeholds and requiring a warning before shooting.

According to Campaign Zero, cities that adopted the policies have seen a decrease in police killings, though some analysts question whether factors other than the policies contributed to those decreases.

Villanueva, who has often been at odds with the board, declared his support for the policies in a Monday tweet.

But public reaction to the policies has been mixed.

Supporters of the movement include influential celebrities like Oprah Winfrey and Ariana Grande, but some civil rights advocates have said the policies do not work.

"We are way past the moment where these demands are acceptable," Dignity & Power Now said in a statement issued last week, characterizing 8 Can't Wait as "failed reform points" that would amount to a "betrayal" by the county.

The nonprofit group, previously part of a coalition of civil rights groups that worked to prevent a women's jail from being built in Lancaster and a massive mental health jail from being built in downtown Los Angeles, said the policies do not go far enough.

Instead, the group said it supports recommendations laid out by a task force the board established to identify alternatives to incarceration and is calling on elected officials to shift funding from law enforcement to community resources and programs, using The People's Budget as a template.

"A lot of eyes have been focused on the city of L.A. and The People's Budget, but I know that focus is also going to fall on us here in Los Angeles County, and I can't speak for all of my colleagues, but I'm pretty sure that we're ready to have that conversation," Hahn said.

"I've heard from some activists some concerns that this is not enough and I agree. These reforms can't be the end, they have to be the beginning," she said. "We do need to invest monies in our communities and our neighborhoods, but we cannot hold law enforcement officers accountable if their own department rules book lets them off the hook."

Ridley-Thomas asked that the matter be postponed for two weeks, but many members of the public still turned out to offer their support.

Separately, Hahn asked her colleagues to support to AB1196, sponsored by Assemblyman Mike Gipson, D-Carson, a bill that would make it illegal for police to use chokeholds and carotid artery restraints. The board's vote in support was unanimous.

The Los Angeles Police Department announced Monday it was banning the restraint, while the sheriff's department vowed to restrict its use. District Attorney Jackie Lacey said Tuesday that her investigators would also be barred from using the carotid hold.

Meanwhile, Supervisor Sheila Kuehl asked for new safety regulations for law enforcement related to the coronavirus pandemic, saying police and sheriff's deputies have failed to consistently follow health mandates and have put protesters at risk.

Kuehl called out unsafe law enforcement tactics, including crowding protesters into small areas and failing to wear personal protective gear.

"There was no real attention paid to all of the things that we have been trying to drum into people's heads — social distancing, masks, etcetera," Kuehl said. "Many of the police officers were not wearing masks."

The board directed public health authorities to work with the sheriff's department and other local law enforcement agencies, as well as health officers in Pasadena and Long Beach, to issue protocols within 48 hours. The motion also suggested that orders should cover the use of tear gas, which some worry will spread COVID-19 by forcing those within range to cough.

The board also voted unanimously to approve plans to continue to reduce the number of youth in juvenile halls and camps and to find ways to keep the jail population low, rather than allowing numbers to build again once stay-at-home orders are eased.

More than 5,000 inmates, many awaiting trial, have been released from county jails in an effort to mitigate the spread of COVID- 19 and the population in juvenile halls has dropped by nearly 200.

A report on solutions for youth is expected back in 30 days and another on ways to maintain a lower jail population was called for within 60 days.

(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)


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