Oakland police to implement new use of force policy

Bay Area

OAKLAND, Calif. (KRON) – Oakland’s police department can begin training its officers on its new use of force policy as soon as Tuesday.

This comes after the Oakland Police Commission officially approved and validated an updated use of force policy that it developed last year with the help of the community and first passed in October 2020.

This latest approval and ratification by the police commission will now set in motion the new training for officers.

The new use of force policy is the product of countless hours of work done by several commissioners, the public and community partners. It prioritizes de-escalation and preservation of life.

“Setting a national standard for use of force. Prioritizing de-escalation and the sanctity of life. This is an entirely new approach and it has respect for humanity as its cornerstone. That’s the difference,” Regina Jackson said.

Regina Jackson is the chair of the Oakland Police Commission. 

She says more than 6-months of work went into developing this new policy last year, which is when they also banned the use of all neck holds and asphyxia. 

Now almost a year later, Jackson says she’s hopeful about changes to come.

“I believe over and over again as people see things being resolved without that force, they will see change and recognize this is a new DNA for the Oakland Police Department,” Jackson said.

In addition to de-escalation tactics and prioritization of human life, the new policy also requires officers to intervene if they see other officers using inappropriate force and only allows the use of force under very strict objective, necessary and reasonable circumstances.

Oakland Civil Rights Attorney John Burris who specializes in police misconduct cases believes the new changes can help build toward a better relationship between the department and community, only if officers are trained and consistently held accountable.

“I think this document speaks to holding officers accountable. It gives them a fair hearing. First, they have to know what the rules are. They have to be trained on the new rules and once they’re trained on these rules and policies, they’re held accountable for them. If they then break these rules, then they know what punishments can happen to them. I think the most important thing is having everyone in the community, different segments in the community, participating in this document gives it a legitimacy that makes it easier to enforce and accepted when decisions have to be made,” John Burris said.

Burris says the new rules are only as good as the enforcement.

He and Regina Jackson hope to see gradual change. Jackson encourages the community to stay engaged and involved in these policy changes.

Their next meeting is this Thursday.

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