LOS ANGELES - The death of George Floyd during an encounter with Minneapolis police sparked outrage and national and international demonstrations in which thousands of people gathered to demand reform and an end to systemic racism.
In response to the protests, cities across the United States are beginning to look over their policies concerning how members of law enforcement conduct themselves when interacting with their communities.
While initiatives have been brought up on the national level, some mayors and governors have already taken it upon themselves to review their policing policies in hopes of making significant changes, some of which have already taken effect.
In the wake of Floyd’s death, the Los Angeles Police Department released a statement on its use of sleeper holds.
“On June 7, 2020, Police Commission-President Eileen Decker requested an immediate review of the Department’s policy regarding the use of the Cartoid Restraint Control Hold. Today, following that review, Commission President Decker and Chief Moore agreed to an immediate moratorium.”
California Gov. Gavin Newsom also tweeted on Carotid hold usage in the state, saying that the tactic is dangerous and that it should not be used by law enforcement.
The city of Berkeley voted on June 9 to ban the police from using tear gas permanently. Councilmember Rigel Robinson said the ban will extend past the coronavirus emergency.
"No end-date," Robinson tweeted. "No sunset."Berkeley police have used tear gas and other crowd-control tactics over the last two weeks to subdue George Floyd protesters who they say have gotten violent, claiming that said protesters looted stores and have thrown rocks and bottles at officers.Police said they may use these tools if there is an "imminent threat" against them.
In Orange County, the sheriff’s office updated one of its policies, now saying deputies have a duty to intervene if they see any unreasonable use of force. The sheriff’s office also updated its use of force policy.
The new line reads, “Deputies have a duty to intervene if they anticipate or observe the unreasonable, unnecessary or disproportionate use of force.”
“Making a policy change and enforcing them to interfere removes the stigma of going against the grain or being a snitch, or whatever, because now it’s a requirement. So now, they’re acting in accordance with what their job duties are,” Jasmine Dortival, an attorney who spoke during a protest in downtown Orlando on June 8, said.“If he had been obliged by law to interfere then George Floyd would probably be with us, so I think it’s extremely important,” said Dortival.
One of the proposals presented by civil rights activists that is resonating in Brevard County is that body cameras should be mandatory for police departments, county commissioners said.
Melbourne is the second-largest city in Brevard County and is likely soon going to require police officers to wear body cameras while on duty. In Palm Bay and Cocoa, officers have body cameras already, but the Brevard County Sheriffs Office does not use the technology.
In the Tampa area, the changes vary from minor adjustments to outright bans, but many local law enforcement agencies say the reforms being demanded by protesters are already part of police policy.
On June 5, Tampa Mayor Jane Castor reemphasized the city’s current policies, including a ban on chokeholds and shooting as a last resort.Castor and Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan revealed that the there will be eight policy changes. They include banning chokeholds and shooting at vehicles, requiring de-escalation and warning before shooting, and improving reports filled out by officers.
Up until May 27, Sarasota police officers could use vascular neck restraints -- or chokeholds. But two days after Floyd’s death, the police chief banned that method of force.
Three agencies in Pinellas County announced they are improving their policies and procedures. The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office and the St. Petersburg Police Department are also reviewing their rules.
Corporate titans such as Coca-Cola Co., Delta Air Lines, Home Depot and UPS are just a few of the 60 companies that have supported a push to pass new state hate crime laws.In the midst of unrest across the country, faith leaders in Georgia called for state legislators to enact a hate crimes law.
"We have to take immediate legislative action the very moment the state legislature reopens and pass a hate crimes bill," said Rabbi Peter Berg with The Temple in Atlanta.
Georgia's House of Representatives passed House Bill 426 in March 2019, but the legislation stalled in the state Senate.
The bill, sponsored by Rep. Chuck Efstration, R-Dacula, would increase penalties for those convicted of crimes where the court "determines beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant intentionally selected any victim or group of victims or any property as the object of the offense because of the actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, mental disability, or physical disability of such victim or group of victims."
An independent monitor overseeing the progress of reform of the Chicago Police Department said Friday that she will investigate allegations that officers have been violent toward people protesting the killing of George Floyd.
Several Chicago officers came under scrutiny this week after a video showed them pulling two women from a car and throwing them to the ground. Two officers have lost their police powers while the incident is investigated, the department said.
Authorities also are reviewing a separate video that shows an officer chasing and punching a protester last week.
Independent Monitor Maggie Hickey announced her plans during a court hearing after she received a letter from activists in Chicago requesting an investigation.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot said in a statement Friday that she supported Hickey’s plan.
“Just as the overwhelming majority of protests remained peaceful this week, the vast majority of officers followed their training and supervisor direction during these difficult times,” Lightfoot said. “Nonetheless, we will continue to vigorously investigate all reports of excessive force arising from this week.”
On the state level, Illinois Governor JB Pritzker says his far-reaching police reforms are in the works, as one South Side representative predicts a series of new regulations affecting officers.
“The vast majority of police want to do the right thing. But there nonetheless is racism that lives within the body of organizations,” the governor said.
State Rep. Kam Buckner claims a Chicago police officer racially profiled him outside a store in the South Loop during the coronavirus pandemic as he wore a hoodie and a face mask. Buckner never filed a formal complaint against the officer, but is now pushing for what he calls, "police accountability reforms."
Buckner and several others in the General Assembly's Black Caucus are now pushing proposals that failed to pass last year: a special prosecutor to investigate every police-involved shooting; and, even more controversial, redefining how much force police may legally use. The current standard: a "reasonable" amount would become a "necessary" amount of force.
Also on the table: a new, mandatory state license for law enforcement officers that could be revoked as punishment; and reducing legal protections police now have when under investigation.
Under a court order entered by Hennepin County District Court Judge Karen Janisch, the City of Minneapolis must implement the following measures:
-Ban the use of all neck restraints and choke holds.
-Any police officer, regardless of tenure or rank, must report while still on scene if they observe another police officer use any unauthorized use of force, including any chokehold or neck restraint.
-Any police officer, regardless of tenure or rank, must intervene by verbal and physical means if they observe another police officer use any unauthorized use of force, including any choke hold or neck restraint.
-Only the Police Chief or the Chief’s designee at the rank of Deputy Chief may approve the use of crowd control weapons, including chemical agents, rubber bullets, flash-bangs, batons, and marking rounds, during protests and demonstrations.
-The Police Chief must make timely and transparent discipline decisions for police officers as outlined in the order.
-Civilian body worn camera footage analysts and investigators in the City’s Office of Police Conduct Review have the authority to proactively audit body worn camera footage and file or amend complaints on behalf of the Minneapolis Civil Rights Department.
New York state lawmakers repealed a decades-old law on June 9 that has kept law enforcement officers' disciplinary records secret, spurred by the national uproar over the death of George Floyd.
The measure to make officers' records and misconduct complaints public is among several police accountability bills racing through the state legislature. Lawmakers passed other bills that would provide all state troopers with body cameras and ensure that police officers provide medical and mental health attention to people in custody.
Eliminating the law, known as Section 50-a, would make complaints against officers, as well as transcripts and final dispositions of disciplinary proceedings, public for the first time in decades.
Police unions declared that officers were being abandoned, and condemned lawmakers for allowing themselves to be influenced by protests in which officers were injured by thrown objects and police vehicles were burned.
On June 9, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney backed off a proposed $14 million increase to the police department’s revised budget and pledged to review use-of-force polices as protesters across the country demanded deep changes to policing in the wake of George Floyd’s death.
The new agenda came days after 14 of 17 members of Philadelphia's city council announced they would not support a $14 million proposed increase to the police budget for the 2021 fiscal year.
“We will be focused on reconciliation, on understanding, and—most importantly—on engaging and taking appropriate action in response,” Kenney said in a statement. “We will embark on a path toward real change in Philadelphia, and hopefully across America. We will seize this moment, and we will move quickly, because too many lives are being lost.”
Austin Mayor Pro Tem Delia Garza explained a variety of police reform items, including cutting funding from the department. One of the new resolutions would set a goal of “zero racial disparities in traffic stops, zero racial disparities in arrests and tickets from traffic stops, zero use of force incidents and zero officer-involved deaths.”
Another resolution called for the city council to pass a resolution relating to the police department's use of force and upcoming cadet class munitions -- like bean bags, equipment, technology, and tactics. The announcement came during a special meeting held by the Austin City Council. The special meeting was called to talk about the Austin Police Department's handling of days of demonstrations and protests.
The Dallas city manager also called for reforms, but called initial action steps "the floor, not the ceiling" of cultural changes at Dallas City Hall. The reforms are aligned with "21st century policing," according to the city manager.
A former police chief and criminologist spoke about what the changes mean for the Dallas Police Department and the public. “I think, more than the officers needing to hear it, I think the public needs to hear that she did something,” former Cockrell Hill Police Chief Catherine Smit-Torrez said.
A "Warning Before Shooting Policy," which will go into effect by June 12, requires officers to warn suspects or detainees before firing weapons at them. Monthly reporting of officer contact data on all traffic stops and citations will also be implemented.
By the end of June, DPD will create and implement a body and dash cam policy to release critical incident videos. DPD and the city manager's staff will also conduct a review of all use-of-force policies and offer changes or revisions by August 28.
The day after George Floyd was laid to rest in his hometown, Houston’s City Council decided against a slate of immediate policing reforms proposed by Council Member Letitia Plummer.
Plummer’s proposals included funding for a police oversight committee manned by civilians armed with subpoena power and rapid response crisis intervention teams staffed by social workers and mental health responders, a program patterned after and effort in Eugene, Oregon known as CAHOOTS.
But Mayor Sylvester Turner led an overwhelming council majority which favored a wait and see approach with study and extensive public input.
The D.C. council is weighing new police reforms to supplement and strengthen previous measures that are already in place, City Council Chairman Phil Mendelson said on June 8. The reforms – which the chairman expects to pass – come amid a flurry of similar moves cities are considering across the country in the wake of George Floyd’s death.
-Actions within the reforms include:
-A provision on neck restraints
-Changing the law regarding body cameras
-Changes to the office of police complaints
-Expanding the membership of the use of force review board
-Extending the time of corrective or adverse action against a DC police officer in serious cases
-Would repeal an anti-mask law
-Would require procedural safeguards in which a person must consent to being searched
-Mandatory ongoing education, and reconstituting the police officers’ standards and training board
-Changes regarding officers’ identification during first-amendment assemblies as local law enforcement
Tacoma leaders, including Mayor Victoria Woodards, came together to discuss racial reconciliation and healing during a drive-in event hosted by Tacoma's NAACP, Tacoma's Ministerial Alliance, OURChurch, and Associated Ministries on June 8.
Woodards vowed to make changes, starting with pushing for all Tacoma Police Department officers to wear body cameras.
Seattle’s mayor and police chief promised a month-long moratorium on using a type of tear gas to disperse protesters. The department used it during protests, which brought severe criticism on June 8 from City Council members, including Teresa Mosqueda, who called on Mayor Jenny Durkan to resign.
City Council President Lorena Gonzalez said the time has passed for mere reform of the police department, and the council must think in a “transformational way” about how the city views public safety and funds police.
The Associated Press, FOX 11, KTVU FOX 2, FOX 13 News, FOX 35 Orlando, FOX 5 Atlanta, FOX 9, FOX 5 NY, FOX 29 Philadelphia, FOX 7 Austin, FOX 4, FOX 26 Houston, FOX 5 D.C., Q13 FOX contributed to this report.