Los Angeles Is Taking an Important Step to Prevent Police Brutality

July 7th 2015

Nicole Charky

Following growing concern and nationwide protests against police brutality, one major city—Los Angeles—plans to re-train all 10,000 of its police officers, Los Angeles Police Department officials announced this week.

During a one-day training class offered at one division next week, officers will focus on use of force and how police can interact with mentally ill people, ABC7 reports. After the first course, officers in 21 other geographic areas of Los Angeles will also receive the training.

This move comes after the fatal shooting of Ezell Ford, a mentally ill, 25-year-old man who was killed in August 2014 during an altercation with two LAPD officers. It also follows a fatal police shooting of a homeless man on skid row this past March. That was captured in a dramatic video and posted on Facebook. An independent inspector general and the district attorney's office are still investigating the shooting, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Officials say the re-training is a dramatic action by the department.

"To my knowledge, we've never shut down the divisions one after another and had a single focused area of training like we have at this time," LAPD Cmdr. Andrew Smith told ABC7. "We want to make sure we have our officer's trained as best we can, so they go out there and constitutionally police and build those partnerships."

LAPD began looking into new training before the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, last summer, KPCC reports. After Ford was fatally shot in Los Angeles--among other incidents--training became a high priority.

“This is a pause that this department is going to take to recalibrate,” Deputy Chief Bob Green, who helped design the training, told KPCC. “We want to make sure everybody knows how to constitutionally police, and how to treat people with respect.”

The five-hour re-training examines four areas, KPPC reports:

  • Building public trust by partnering with the community and recognizing your own implicit racial biases.
  • Use of force and de-escalation techniques, including taking cover and creating distance from suspects to buy time to talk to them and call for back-up.
  • How best to identify and approach mentally ill people.
  • Basic laws of arrest, including reasonable suspicion and probable cause.

So far in 2015, 577 people have been killed by police officers in the U.S., according to the Guardian.