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The City Journals

SSLPD says many reform initiatives already in practice

Sep 09, 2020 03:46PM ● By Bill Hardesty

Many people are calling for police reform. (Image by Bruce Emmerling /Pixabay)

By Bill Hardesty | [email protected]

Since the death of George Floyd over three months ago, many people have called for police reform across the nation, the state, and in the City of South Salt Lake.

National initiatives like 8 can’t wait or the Reform/Transform Policy Reform were briefly mentioned in City Council meetings and other forums as frameworks for reform.

What are these initiatives and how is South Salt Lake Police Department responding?

8 can’t wait

8 can’t wait is a project by Campaign Zero. They are calling for these eight actions to happen immediately. The eight actions are:

  • Ban chokeholds and strangleholds: They argue this action can result in death or serious injury.
  • Require de-escalation: They are asking for officers to de-escalate situations by communicating with subjects, maintaining a distance, and otherwise eliminating the need to use of force.
  • Require warning before shooting: They want to require all officers to give a verbal warning in all situations before shooting.
  • Exhaust all alternatives before shooting: They want to require all officers to exhaust all other alternatives, including non-force and less-lethal force options prior to using deadly force.
  • Duty to intervene: They are asking for a requirement for other officers to intervene and stop excessive force used by other officers and to report the incident immediately.
  • Ban shooting at moving vehicles: They are asking for a ban on shooting at moving vehicles in all cases.
  • Require use of force continuum: They want to establish a force continuum that restricts the most severe types of force to the most extreme situations including a clear policy on their use.
  • Report comprehensive reporting: They want officers to report each time they use force or threaten to use force against an individual.

Besides these eight actions, Campaign Zero (joincampaignzero.org) is built around 10 policy solutions because they “can live in a world where the police don’t kill people by limiting police interventions, improving community interactions, and ensuring accountability,” according to the Campaign Zero website.

Ray deWolfe, councilmember at-large, mentioned this initiative during a recent meeting.

“The intention behind this is really doing a self-evaluation of our policing policies. We want to make sure we are providing the best possible policing to our community and this creates a conversation with our police chief, council, and administration to ensure we are,” deWolfe said.

Reform/Transform Policy reforms

The Reform/Transform 11 Policy is an initiative of Local Progress (Reform/Transform.org), which is a national network of progressive elected officials from cities and counties. 

The 11 policy reforms were developed as a policing policy toolkit that can be used by local officials to evaluate their city’s policing policies.

The 11 policy reforms are: independent oversight; data transparency; transparency in police and civilian encounters; an end to the co-optation of local law enforcement for federal immigration enforcement; demilitarization; pre-booking diversion programs; an end to the school to prison and deportation pipeline; bans on bias-based policing; use of force; property seizure and asset forfeiture; and investments in public safety beyond policing.

With each of these reforms, there is an assessment tool that city councils, city staff, police departments and residents can use to measure the advances in the community.

Natalie Pinkney, councilmember at-large, supports this initiative.

“Assessing our policies is an important part of government. We cannot with confidence say we are on par, improving, or falling short of our residents when we simply do not know. I am asking for these evaluations for just that reason. I believe it’s important to ask if our policies are helping move our community forward and not be afraid to acknowledge that some police policies are outdated and may not focus on the correction of behavior we are seeking,” Pinkney said.

SSLPD

Danielle Croyle, the SSLPD public information officer (PIO) and training coordinator, pointed out that some of these initiatives are already in practice in the department.

For example, Section 53-13-115 of the State Code enacted in a special session and effective June 25 states, “A police officer may not restrain a person by the application of a knee applying pressure on the neck or throat of a person.”

The code states violation of this section is a third degree felony. If the action results in serious bodily injury or loss of consciousness, it is bumped up to a second degree felony. If death occurs, it is a first degree felony.

Croyle pointed out that actions don’t necessarily need to be written in a policy to be part of the SSLPD standards. SSLPD is governed by three sources: state law, like Section 53-13-115; POST (Police Office Standards and Training) standards; and city ordinances, such as creating a Citizen Review Board. 

“Whatever that Citizen’s Review Board decides to be part of and how they want to be part of the change, we are supportive of it,” Croyle said.

She mentioned that they are already working on additional changes, but they don’t want to be redundant if the state enacts additional standards. 

“Law enforcement is a fluid career. We don’t do the same thing we did a year ago or five years ago or 10 years ago. Laws change. Expectations change. We are constantly evolving to support those initiatives,” Croyle said.   

Croyle did mention a big concern within the department.

“One of the big concerns we have is that there is a big push to defund the police department. Obviously, such action does not support our mission of what we are trying to accomplish here in South Salt Lake. If anything, we should be adding funds to our organization to ensure everybody is properly trained,” Croyle said.