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San Diego Police to implement new de-escalation policy

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Posted at 4:57 PM, Jun 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-10 20:13:30-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) – Mayor Kevin Faulconer says changes are coming to the city's police department, as demands for police reform are made in cities around the nation.

Faulconer says San Diego Police will develop a new de-escalation policy based on community feedback and best practices to reduce the number of use-of-force incidents.

The new policy is expected to be unveiled next week.

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"It gives officers clear rules of the road on how to safely control a situation and resolve it with lower levels of force," Faulconer said Wednesday, adding the department has been working on changes since last week with input from special advisory meetings.

Faulconer didn't specify what types of changes or additions to expect in the policy.

Maresa Talbert, Co-chair of San Diegans for Justice, says training could give officers a variety of tools.

"It can be as easy as a voice command. It can be something as simple as creating some space to really kind of calm down the situation where you're not face-to-face or where you're not arm-to-arm or touching," Talbert said.

San Diego's police, like many departments around the nation, have faced increased scrutiny for use-of-force policies amid demonstrations against police brutality. In response, SDPD has banned the use of the carotid restraint technique among officers.

Jack Schaeffer, President of the San Diego Police Officers Association, says the department's use-of-force policy, which includes de-escalation tactics, is regularly updated.

City leaders have also responded. The Office on Race & Equity was recently created to tackle racial equity issues and City Council President Georgette Gomez has requested leaders consider a proposed ballot measure to expand police oversight this month.

"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 of the forthcoming policy.

Calls for a decrease in police spending, however, were not met. This week, after more than 10 hours of public comment, city leaders sent the proposed fiscal 2021 budget to the mayor's desk, which included an increase of the police budget to $566 million.