CA DOJ Releases Report on Use of Force Policies and Procedures within the Sacramento Police Dept.

SACRAMENTO, Jan. 29, 2019 – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today announced the release of a California Department of Justice (DOJ) report on use of force-related polices, training, and practices within the Sacramento Police Department (SPD). The report is entirely separate from DOJ’s independent oversight into the shooting death of Stephon Alonzo Clark. The purpose of the report is to provide SPD with recommendations grounded in evidence and promising practices from around the country to help guide the reform efforts it has independently committed to pursue.

“We stand together today to take an important step forward to strengthen the trust that must exist between our communities and law enforcement officers as they work to protect all Californians,” said Attorney General Becerra. “This report will provide the Sacramento Police Department with a range of substantive recommendations to do just that. I thank Chief Daniel Hahn for opening the doors to his department for the Department of Justice to conduct this important, independent review.”

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“We invited the California Attorney General to examine our agency because the Sacramento Police Department isn’t interested in being good enough, or in narrowly complying with the laws and policies governing our work,” said Sacramento Chief of Police Daniel Hahn. “We continue to seek ways to be a leader in law enforcement and to set an example of transparency, community involvement, and constant improvement.”

“Xavier Becerra and his agency have done our Police Department, our City, and our community a major service by helping push the change that Chief Hahn and the City Council started,” said Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg. “I am confident the Police Department will embrace the findings of this examination and put them into action, ensuring that we are a city where police and community work in partnership and where we lead the way to fairness and transparency.”

Focusing on six key areas, the report made substantial recommendations, including:

  • More expressly connecting the sanctity of human life with use of force-related policies;
  • Prohibiting certain problematic uses of force, including needlessly high-risk force, such as chokeholds, and shooting at or from moving vehicles;
  • Establishing a Use of Force Review Board;
  • Requiring annual use of force training for all staff, regardless of rank;
  • Finding meaningful ways to incorporate community members into the lesson plan development process during training;
  • Conducting formal after-action reviews with officers, supervisors, and command staff, following officer-involved shootings;
  • Developing and implementing a community outreach plan that includes regularly scheduled and broadly accessible meetings with Sacramento residents; and
  • Working towards providing greater transparency by consistently releasing information regarding use of force and other related topics.

Overall, DOJ found SPD personnel to be professional, thoughtful, and committed to making change. Throughout the process, personnel at all levels of the police department have been open, cooperative, and receptive to evaluation and improvement. In order to conduct a thorough, expedient review that would be most useful to SPD and the community it is entrusted to serve, DOJ assembled a diverse team of experts, including lawyers within the DOJ’s Civil Rights Enforcement Section and outside experts from the private sector, academia, and government.

The report released today is the first of two looking into SPD’s use of force-related policies and systems. A subsequent report looking into use of force beyond officer-involved shootings and issues such as recruitment and hiring and prevention of bias will be made available after DOJ has thoroughly reviewed the relevant information.

The full report is available here.