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Bay Area Headlines: Tuesday, 6/9/20, PM

Police Use Of Force Policies Reviewed / What Does “Defunding Police” Mean? / SF Considers Defunding Police / SF Expands Victim Compensation Services

Police Use Of Force Policies Reviewed

Around the Bay Area and the state, lawmakers and police departments are starting to consider changes to their "use of force" policies.

On Monday, California’s Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon and other key lawmakers backed proposed state legislation that would outlaw sleeper holds. That’s the police tactic of restraining a person by applying pressure to the sides of the neck with an arm. It’s one type of what’s called a “carotid hold.”

Governor Newsom and members of the California Legislature’s black and Latino caucuses are calling for a statewide ban on all of these kinds of holds.

In San Jose, the Mercury News is reporting that the police department will limit its use of “projectile impact weapons” like rubber bullets to when someone is actively attacking someone else. 

Meanwhile, in San Francisco, a trio of supervisors is introducing legislation that would ban police use of rubber bullets and other tools often used to control crowds, like chemical agents, flash bangs or stun grenades.

And as for BART’s police force, their communications department told KALW that, among other things, the department is working with the Center for Policing Equity to review enforcement demographic data. 

The think tank will release a draft of its report later this year.

What Does “Defunding Police” Mean?

Activists are calling on governments to “defund the police” as nationwide protests continue over the killing of George Floyd. That doesn’t necessarily mean eliminating law enforcement.

Matthew Barge with consulting firm 21st Century Policing Solutions says it’s more about reallocating funds.

“It means that there are other solutions that are stepping in to take the burden off of what we’ve always forced police officers to do.”

He says money from police budgets could be shifted to form a response team of medical and social workers to assist people experiencing homelessness or mental health crises.

That would alleviate the burden on law enforcement, though it could mean fewer officers on the street. But police unions so far are critical of the idea.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti recently proposed cutting the city’s police budget by up to $150 million. That’s a suggestion the LAPD union strongly opposes.

SF Considers Defunding Police

According to Mission Local, last night, at a meeting of San Francisco law enforcement leaders, Police Chief Bill Scott said he’s open to the idea of defunding his department, so long as it’s done thoughtfully. Mayor London Breed and Supervisor Shamann Walton said last Thursday that they will work to redirect funds from the police department to programs supporting “the African American community.”

SF Expands Victim Compensation Services

San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin is expanding compensation services to the victims and witnesses of police violence. The policy change announced today comes as the country reels from the deaths of people of color at the hands of police. That includes 22-year-old Sean Monterossa in Vallejo and 23-year-old Erik Salgado in Oakland.

Under San Francisco’s new policy, victims of police violence and their families would be eligible for funeral and burial expenses, counseling, and help with medical bills like any other crime victim. Boudin says California victims compensation laws exclude people who lack corroboration by law enforcement.

Ben was hired as Interim Executive Director of KALW in November, 2021.