Mayor Faulconer and San Diego city leaders announce new police de-escalation policy

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – Mayor Kevin Faulconer and police Chief David Nisleit Wednesday announced the city’s adoption of two “stand-alone policies” designed to address community concerns about excessive use of force on the part of the San Diego Police Department and resulting potential for “unnecessary loss of life.”

The new regulations will require officers — not merely encourage them — to pursue de-escalation of potentially violent situations by all means possible and to intervene if police personnel are engaging in excessive force, Faulconer said during an afternoon briefing at SDPD headquarters.

The rules, developed along with three local oversight bodies that held emergency meetings on the topic this month, will allow police to “reduce the use of force, further embrace the highest standards of accountability, increase public trust and protect against the unnecessary loss of life,” the mayor said.

The policy recently was endorsed by the San Diego Human Relations Commission, the Community Review Board on Police Practices and the Citizens Advisory Board on Police and Community Relations.

“Today we are pleased to announce that the San Diego Police Department has approved it and is putting it into action,” Faulconer said.

The regulations require officers, “when safe and reasonable,” to employ “techniques that can resolve situations, either through lower levels of force or no force at all,” resulting in “lives saved,” the mayor said.

The tactics include creating a “buffer zone” between a potentially violent subject and officers and calling on such “specialized resources” as the SDPD Psychiatric Emergency Response Team, according to Faulconer.

“I want to be clear — force should always be the last option,” the mayor said. “But SDPD can still use reasonable force levels if de-escalation tactics do not work.”

The agency has long practiced techniques intended to “defuse” volatile policing situations, Faulconer noted.

“But now the department has separate, expanded and stand-alone policies that don’t just suggest de-escalation,” he said. “They require it.”

Categories: California News, Local San Diego News