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LAPD Adopts New Policy: De-Escalate First, Shoot Later

Mother Jones

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This is from the LA Times yesterday:

The Los Angeles Police Commission voted Tuesday to require officers to try, whenever possible, to defuse tense encounters before firing their guns — a policy shift that marks a significant milestone in the board’s attempts to curb shootings by police.

Wait. This is new? This hasn’t always been LAPD policy? Apparently not, and apparently not much of anywhere else, either:

As criticism of policing flared across the country, particularly after deadly shootings by officers, law enforcement agencies looked to de-escalation as a way to help restore public trust. Like the LAPD, other departments have emphasized the approach in training and policies.

The Seattle Police Department requires officers to attempt de-escalation strategies, such as trying to calm someone down verbally or calling a mental health unit to the scene. Santa Monica police have similar rules in place, telling officers to try to “slow down, reduce the intensity or stabilize the situation” to minimize the need to use force.

….The focus on de-escalation represents a broader shift in law enforcement, said Samuel Walker, a retired criminal justice professor and expert in police accountability. Now, he said, there’s an understanding that officers can shape how an encounter plays out. “This is absolutely the right thing to do,” he added.

This is especially important in Los Angeles:

African Americans continue to represent a disproportionate number of the people shot at by officers. Nearly a third of the people shot at last year were black — a 7% increase from 2015. Black people make up about 9% of the city’s population but 40% of homicide victims and 43% of violent crime suspects, the report noted.

The LAPD also topped a list of big-city agencies with the highest number of deadly shootings by officers. Police in Los Angeles fatally shot more people than officers in Chicago, New York, Houston and Philadelphia did, the report said. The L.A. County Sheriff’s Department came in second, with 15 deadly shootings.

Go ahead and call me naive, but I would have figured that de-escalation was standard protocol everywhere. Not always followed in practice, of course, but at least theoretically what cops are supposed to do. But apparently not. It sounds like it started to catch on after Ferguson, and is only now being adopted as official policy in a few places.

Better late than never, I suppose, but I wonder what’s stopping this from being universally adopted? What’s the downside?

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LAPD Adopts New Policy: De-Escalate First, Shoot Later

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Silly String Is Illegal Here—But Only on Halloween

Mother Jones

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Halloween is finally here! It’s time to celebrate macabre mischief, ghouls and gluttony, and of course, tricks and treats. But there’s one scary alliterated substance you should steer clear of—especially if you are in Hollywood. On the streets of Tinseltown, getting caught with Silly String is considered a serious offense—but only on Halloween.

Signs have been posted across Hollywood Photo taken by Gil Riego

Generically called “aerosol string,” Silly String is basically brightly colored plastic propelled from an aerosol can. Like confetti but for terrible people, its primary purpose is to annoy or to instantly reveal who the most obnoxious person at a party is. Both sticky and slimy, it is hard to clean up, is bad for the environment, and—surprise!—can be dangerous if you eat it.

As awful as Silly String is most days, it is apparently more awful on Halloween. That’s why, in 2004, Los Angeles Councilman Tom LaBonge sponsored an ordinance to outlaw the stuff for one night only. City officials were sick of cleaning it up, and dealing with the brawls they said were provoked by Silly String sprayings. More than 100,000 people flock to Hollywood to celebrate Halloween and the Silly String remediation costs were said to exceed $200,000.

So, starting at midnight last night and extending until noon tomorrow, should you happen to cross the threshold into the LAPD’s Hollywood Division’s jurisdiction, you better not be packing any String.

Specifically:

No Person, as defined in Municipal Code Section 11.01(a), shall possess, use, sell or distribute Silly String at, within or upon any public or private property that is either within public view or accessible to the public, including, but not limited to, public or private streets, sidewalks, parking lots, commercial or residential buildings, places of business, or parks within the Hollywood Division during Halloween.

The ordinance comes with a pretty heavy set of un-silly sanctions. Just carrying a can of Silly String could get you charged with a misdemeanor, slapped with a $1,000 fine, and jailed for as long as 6 months. That’s a stiffer penalty than you’ll get for misdemeanor pot possession ($100 fine), breaking into a zoo enclosure ($250 fine), bicycling or hunting while drunk ($250 and $500, respectively). It’s more on par with petty theft, and more severe mayhem like being disorderly while drunk or getting minors drunk.

So while you are free to spray away in most places today (litter ordinances permitting), why not do everyone a favor and take a hint from Hollywood? Just keep it in the can.

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Silly String Is Illegal Here—But Only on Halloween

Posted in Anchor, Everyone, FF, G & F, GE, LAI, LG, ONA, PUR, Radius, Uncategorized, Venta | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Silly String Is Illegal Here—But Only on Halloween