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Lorraine Reich: No more police shootings of people in crisis

Lorraine Reich | Other Voices

Today is the one-year anniversary of the shooting of Sage Crawford in front of her two young children. Saturday there will be a celebration of life for Sage in Robinson’s Plaza.

One of the most basic interactions a citizen can have is encountering a police officer. It’s completely unacceptable that for people of color, the poor, houseless, mentally ill, or substance addicted during some of these routine interactions that one has to fear for one’s life.

In 2021 the Community Oversight Task Force of Nevada County was formed by a small group of concerned community members. Our mission is to work to enhance accountability and transparency in local policing policies, practices, and trainings and to help build community trust through civilian oversight.



Our investigations found Nevada County Sheriff’s deputies were not adequately educated or trained when responding to the Gabriel Strickland and Sage Crawford crisis incidents. Generally police are not educated or adequately trained in responses to mental health crises.

In 2019, the California Legislature and Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law the California Act to Save Lives. This landmark bill effectively changed the instances when police officers can use deadly force, changing the standard from one based on a deputy’s reasonable belief to one that requires police officers to use deadly force only when necessary in defense of human life for either of the following reasons:



(A) To defend against an imminent threat of death or serious bodily injury to the officer or to another person.

(B) To apprehend a fleeing person for any felony that threatened or resulted in death or serious bodily injury if the officer reasonably believes that the person will cause death or serious bodily injury to another unless immediately apprehended.

In its work, the Community Oversight Task Force reviewed 63 Nevada County sheriff’s deputies’ training records. Notably, despite AB 392 being effective January 2020, it was discovered that only 10 deputies had received the training before January 2020.

Specifically, the two deputies involved in the Gabriel Strickland shooting death on Jan. 1, 2020, had not taken the training before that incident.

It was also found that 29 deputies had not taken the required training until after February 2021, following the death of Sage Crawford.

As of August 2021, there were 26 sheriff’s deputies who still had not taken the new use of force and de-escalation training.

We are also concerned with the lack of sheriff’s deputies’ training in disability and mental illness, especially because there is a high percentage of un-housed individuals and those suffering from mental illness in Nevada County.

We implore Sheriff Shannan Moon to ensure all our deputies have been properly trained in the new law which requires significant de-escalation training.

We implore Sheriff Moon to ensure all sheriff’s deputies have been properly trained before serving in the community. Public safety requires all armed deputies be up to date on all state mandated Police Officers Standards and Training.

Recommendations:

∎ Establish a 24/7 CAHOOTS-style Crisis Response Team https://whitebirdclinic.org/what-is-cahoots/.

∎ Create more housing, resources and support services.

∎ Fund more mental health and drug treatment centers.

∎ Establish policy for deputies to take bi-annual interactive training for people in crisis, including training in implicit bias and racial profiling.

∎ Eliminate officers who do not follow the law or training.

∎ Review and update Sheriff’s Use of Force policies and procedures to be compliant with AB392.

∎ Create collaborative partnerships between law enforcement and the community.

∎ Instill a guardian mentality for crisis situations rather than a military response.

∎ Require dispatchers to have minimum four hours mental health training bi-annually to recognize calls involving people in crisis.

∎ Drug testing of deputies within four hours following use of force incidents involving injury or death.

∎ Mental health testing of deputies prior to hiring and regular/ongoing testing.

∎ Prompt release of all records following use of force incidents (AB1421).

∎ Immediate implementation of body cameras.

∎ Video link to the Community Oversight Task Force presentation on the Sheriff’s Department: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nBvUUS8wN0k

Take Action: Join the Celebration of Life of Sage Crawford and lives lost to law enforcement violence from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday at Robinson’s Plaza in Nevada City. Speakers, music, free food!  More information at StreetCARE Mobile Crisis Collective. #peersupport #grassvalley #spiritpeerempowerment #streetcare or contact at: StreetcareMC@gmail.com.

Lorraine Reich represents the views of the Community Oversight Task Force of Nevada County.

 

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