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Recommendations for changing police response to protestors revealed

Police car lights in night time, crime scene, night patrolling the city. {br}
Police car lights in night time, crime scene, night patrolling the city.
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A group of policing advisors to Governor Gavin Newsom have released new recommendations for how law enforcement should respond to protests. The findings were presented by Ron Davis, former Director of the United States Department of Justice, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services under President Obama and Lateefah Simon, an activist and the founder of the Akonadi Foundation.

“The role of police officers in protests and demonstrations is to keep the peace, and facilitate the ability of protesters to demonstrate peacefully without infringing on their First Amendment rights,” said Governor Newsom. “Implementation of these recommendations will help ensure our law enforcement agencies are better equipped to respond safely to protests and demonstrations and reinforce the values of community partnership, de-escalation, and restraint.”

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The report outlines research the policing advisors reviewed and creates a series of recommendations that the governor has passed along to the Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training to have them implement.

Key Findings of Policing Advisors:

  • Coordination and Communication: Police should communicate clearly with assembled civilians, ideally before demonstrations have started, but also during, in the service of maintaining safety. Law enforcement agencies should work to establish and keep open lines of communication with protest organizers when possible. They should also reinforce expectations and values with partnering agencies in mutual aid relationships to promote consistent practices.
  • Avoiding unnecessary enforcement: During protests and demonstrations, enforcement of low-level offenses or imposing unnecessary constraints on movement can spark avoidable conflict. Enforcement should target those who are causing harm in order to avoid disrupting the First Amendment rights of other participants.
  • Minimizing militarization: Militaristic presence (e.g., with armored vehicles, combat-style helmets or weapons) can be counterproductive and threatening to peaceful protestors and may incite or escalate conflict.
  • Minimizing use of weapons: Deploying weapons, including kinetic impact projectiles and chemical irritants, can, in addition to causing injuries and even death, rapidly escalate conflict, and they should be used as a last resort to protect life and repel assaults when other means have been exhausted.
Additionally, the recommendations encourage local law enforcement agencies to require all officers in direct contact with demonstrators to wear and activate body cameras; ensure the protection of journalists and legal observers; and identify and address the role of hate groups in disrupting protests and instigating violence. "The recommendations we are providing to the Governor reflect the best practices from the field to ensure law enforcement effectively and safely facilitate First Amendment protected demonstrations and protests in a manner consistent with both the Constitution and the high standards and values of California," Said Davis. The recommendations released today focus on protests and demonstrations. Recommendations related to the new use of force laws will be released in the coming weeks.
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