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New San Diego Police Department policy on public demonstrations

Posted at 6:22 PM, Feb 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-22 21:22:49-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - On Monday, ABC 10News got reaction from local leaders following the release of the San Diego Police Department’s new 15 page policy on police conduct during public demonstrations.

According to the policy, demonstrations are supported with the goal, in part, being to “preserve the peace, prevent criminal activity, control traffic, and facilitate the safe exercise of an individual or group's First Amendment rights."

The policy also states, in part, "All plans shall include de-escalation considerations."

Social justice advocate KC Short with We Stand United San Diego said on Monday that the new policy is lacking. “I feel that the policy [has] more of what the police are just going to allow themselves to do because who's policing the police?” he questioned.

The policy states, in part, that with approval, officers' name tags can be replaced with ID-number tags. If a demonstration is deemed unlawful, "the dispersal order shall be given at least three (3) times," and that order must be “in English and Spanish” but body cams must be turned on first, according to the policy.

Dispersal techniques that include the use of less-lethal force can reportedly be used if there's noncompliance. The incident commander coordinates the use of "OC spray (Oleoresin Capsicum)", "foam baton rounds", "pepperballs" and "flashbangs".

Assistant Chiefs can reportedly authorize "CS gas grenades" and "rubber sting balls".

“I feel that a lot of people are going to be coming there with the intention to stay peaceful unless antagonized and I believe that some of these means are going to be antagonizing to the crowd,” Short told ABC 10News.

The new policy requires that officers continue to try to gain compliance through negotiation, even after dispersal techniques are deployed. Also, if a crowd breaks up or leaves, deployment must end.

An attorney with the local ACLU confirmed to ABC 10News on Monday that he believes that the new policy needs more overall emphasis on de-escalation.

San Diego Police Officers Association President Jack Schaeffer wrote to ABC 10News on Monday, “I support the new policy because I think it addresses all levels of demonstrations and explains police response and accountability. To me, it is important [that] we are able maintain the safety of the residents of [San Diego], while only using the appropriate levels of force, if any force is required.”

An SDPD spokesperson wrote to ABC 10News on Monday that he was unable to provide an interview.