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Carlsbad police, local coalitions announce new de-escalation policy

CARLSBAD — The Carlsbad Police Department, along with three civic organizations, announced a sweeping new de-escalation policy during a press conference on Oct. 28 at police headquarters in Carlsbad.

Lt. Reid Shipley spoke about how the department, plus the Carlsbad Equality Coalition, North County Equity and Justice Coalition and North San Diego NAACP, came together to work on the policy to include pre-engagement, de-escalation and disengagement practices for officers.

Shipley said all department employees, including dispatch and non-sworn volunteers, have already undergone training but will continue education as part of the department’s overall policy.

“It’s our belief that this policy, and the values it holds, will not only make individuals we contact safer, but also will protect the community and our officers,” Shipley said.

Rob Jenkins of the North San Diego NAACP and Yusef Miller of the North County Equity and Justice Coalition speak about the Carlsbad Police Department’s new de-escalation policy during a press conference on Oct. 28 at CPD headquarters. Photo by Steve Puterski
Rob Jenkins of the North San Diego NAACP and Yusef Miller of the North County Equity and Justice Coalition speak about the Carlsbad Police Department’s new de-escalation policy during a press conference on Oct. 28 at CPD headquarters. Photo by Steve Puterski

Keyrollos Ibrahim, president and co-founder of the Carlsbad Equality Coalition, said the collaboration of ideas and discussions has built a pathway to provide safety to officers and the community and builds trust between all parties.

Carlsbad Police’s new policy and guidelines are measures meant to introduce new techniques, crisis intervention tactics and other alternatives to reasonably avoid use-of-force situations. Shipley said both the concern for the public’s safety and for the lives of those who are contacted by police are the top priorities.

The policy also includes a “duty to intercede” guideline where “any officer present and observing another department member acting in a manner that is clearly inconsistent with this policy, as determined by an objectively reasonable officer under the circumstances, shall, when in a position to do so, intercede to further compliance with de-escalation best practices.”

Shipley said the department will track results and deliver a report on those findings, which they will then evaluate to determine if changes are needed.

Ibrahim said the policy is also meant to give officers “time and space” when contacting an individual, allowing officers to assess and think about a situation before rushing into a “split-second” judgment call, which can have fatal results.

Carlsbad Police Chief Mickey Williams, right, shakes hands with Yusef Miller of the North County Equity and Justice Coalition after a press conference on Oct. 28 announcing the department’s new de-escalation policy. Photo by Steve Puterski
Carlsbad Police Chief Mickey Williams, right, shakes hands with Yusef Miller of the North County Equity and Justice Coalition after a press conference on Oct. 28 announcing the department’s new de-escalation policy. Photo by Steve Puterski

Ibrahim pointed to the case of Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old boy who was gunned down in 2014 by Cleveland police officers for playing with an airsoft gun in a park.

“I think it will address the complaints we have received,” Ibrahim said. “I think it makes officers safer, makes the community safer and most importantly, the way that this was done, the collaboration that was put in place, truly builds trust.”

Rob Jenkins, of the NSD NAACP, and Yusef Miller, of the NCEJC, also spoke about the need for the new policy, along with the constructive dialogue with CPD. Jenkins said it was important for the stakeholders to have a seat at the table while saying the policy doesn’t mean much if it’s not incorporated into new hires as well.

Miller said he is also hopeful the policy will increase safety for all officers and the public and shows police departments are open to community feedback. Miller also said Shipley and others in the CPD showed him, and others, the processes, protocols and challenges of policing so each group had a more thorough understanding of CPD’s positions.

“If they made a policy in isolation, it would not be the document it is today,” Miller added. “For us to be present at the table, gives us confidence and assurance that our voices are being heard.”

Shipley said all new officers and civilian personnel will also undergo the training upon hiring as the department is streamlining all employees with the new guidelines. Shipley said the policy expands on the countywide de-escalation policy established in June 2020 in the wake of the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis that sparked nationwide protests against police brutality.

The CEC, meanwhile, was formed just weeks after Floyd’s death and has been working with department brass, including Chief Mickey Williams, about new approaches such as de-escalation. CPD also enacted the “8 Can’t Wait” policies in June 2020 to prevent excessive use of force.

“We want this to be a model for every city in the county,” Ibrahim said. “Some cities have had zero movement and they are hurting themselves.”