In a letter to the community on June 16, Concord Police Chief Mark Bustillos responded to questions about the national “8 Can’t Wait” police reform campaign related to police use-of-force policies. These are the highlights of that letter. The entire letter can be read at http://www.cityofconcord.org/DocumentCenter/View/4714/8-Cant-Wait-CPD-Response.
“As the new Chief of Police for the Concord Police Department, I am currently reviewing all policies, procedures, tactics, and training. I am listening carefully to the community conversations, and I am mindful of the current climate of frustration and anger related to police abuse-of-power situations, including the inexcusable killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer. I am also aware of how this sentiment affects our own community engagement and public trust here in Concord.
I understand and fully embrace the notion that the Concord Police Department is created by the community and for the community. It is our responsibility to develop rules, regulations, policies, and procedures which reflect the values of our community and utilize the best practices of our profession. I have heard from many of you who requested Concord’s response to the national call for the “8 Can’t Wait” policing reforms. In response to your requests, I would like to share the following:
- Require de-escalation. Concord PD complies with this request. The Concord Police Department trains officers to employ these techniques when dealing with people in crisis. Concord also trains officers on topics such as mental health, crisis intervention, anti-biased-based policing, and de-escalation tactics. We were recently invited to showcase our virtual reality training curriculum to the California Commission on Police Officer Standards and Training (POST) for consideration of a statewide model of de-escalation training.
- Require warning by officers before shooting. Concord PD complies with this request whenever feasible. The Concord Police Department provides extensive classroom, practical, and scenario-based training for officers to make reasonable efforts to warn that deadly force may be used.
- Department shall require officers to intervene in the event of excessive force. Concord Police Department policy requires officers to intervene with any observed misconduct including excessive force. Body worn cameras are required to be activated during nearly every interaction with the community to include incidents where force is used.
- Require comprehensive reporting of use of force incidents. The Concord Police Department has a robust use of force reporting and review process. All uses of force are immediately reviewed at the scene by a supervisor. Officer body worn camera video is reviewed on every use of force along with witness statements, photographs, and corresponding police reports.
- Ban Chokeholds and Strangulations. The Concord Police Department does not authorize chokeholds or strangulations.
- Ban shooting at moving vehicles. In most circumstances, Concord PD complies with this request. However, Concord Police Department officers – when under life-threatening circumstances, coupled with an extreme hazard, and overcome by the urgency of the situation – have the discretion to fire at vehicles.
- Require use of force continuum. Concord PD does not support this request. The use of force continuum is an outdated model that has proven to be impractical, even dangerous, when applied in real-life situations. Instead, policies should focus on requiring officers to create space and separation in an attempt to utilize de-escalation techniques.
- Require officers to exhaust all means before shooting. This may be the area in which there is the least amount of common ground with the “8 Can’t Wait” platform. This requirement placed officers and departments in an untenable position by permitting second-guessing of split-second decisions, creating ambiguity, and lacking in objective and clearly defined reasonable force alternatives. The Concord Police Department policy only permits the use of any deadly force when: In the necessary defense of themselves, or someone else, when the officer has reasonable cause to believe they are in imminent danger of death or serious bodily injury. To effect the arrest, to prevent an escape, or to recapture a suspect when the officer has reasonable cause to believe the suspect has committed or attempted to commit a felony involving the use, or threatened use, of deadly force or serious bodily injury, or when the officer has reasonable cause to believe a substantial risk exists that the felony suspect to be arrested will cause death or serious bodily harm if their apprehension is delayed.”