Police review boards hold emergency meetings on de-escalation tactics

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) – Two community boards that review police practices will hold emergency meetings Wednesday and Thursday regarding the San Diego Police Department’s de-escalation policies.

The city’s Citizens Advisory Board on Police/Community Relations will meet at 6 p.m. Wednesday, followed by a Thursday evening meeting of the Community Review Board on Police Practices, both of which can be viewed on the city’s website and YouTube page.

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer said the goal of both meetings is to “take a serious look at de-escalation recommendations that could be implemented by our department” and “increasing and facilitating further dialogue and understanding between our officers, our men and women who are out there protecting us, and the community.”

San Diego Police officers (L) in riot gear and a special tactics group (R) face-off with demonstrators in downtown San Diego, California on May 31, 2020, as people gather to protest against the death of Minneapolis man George Floyd. – Numerous cities across the US saw another day of violent protests after Floyd, an African-American, died on May 25 after being handcuffed and as a white police officer, who has since been charged with murder, knelt on his neck. (Photo by ARIANA DREHSLER / AFP) (Photo by ARIANA DREHSLER/AFP via Getty Images)

Faulconer said public input is welcome regarding what SDPD policies should be updated or changed.

“Many are crying out to be heard. We are listening,” Faulconer said. “Your city is listening. Now we want to turn those words into actions.”

The meetings will be held amid protests against police brutality staged in San Diego and elsewhere across the country, and follow Monday’s announcement by the SDPD that it is banning the use of the carotid restraint technique.

While the protests occurring both locally and nationwide were triggered by the Memorial Day death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, some have accused local law enforcement of escalating violence during protests in San Diego and La Mesa through the use of tear gas and bean bag rounds to disperse crowds.

During a Monday news conference outside the County Administration Center, community leaders said weekend protests in San Diego and La Mesa were peaceful until officers clad in tactical gear crowded protesters, then fired non-lethal ammunition toward the protest groups.

Will Rodriguez-Kennedy, chair of the San Diego County Democratic Party, said San Diego police caused “the panic that led to the escalation of violence” on Sunday by boxing in the crowd in downtown San Diego.

“How many of y’all think marching troops towards a contained space is de-escalation?” he asked.

Local activist Tasha Williamson criticized law enforcement who responded to Saturday’s protest in La Mesa, during which protester Leslie Furcron was shot in the head with a projectile, allegedly by a police officer.

Furcron’s family held a news conference outside La Mesa City Hall Tuesday afternoon to call for the officer involved to be fired and criminally charged.

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