New Oakland Policy Passes for Police Interaction With Armed, Unresponsive People


Oakland police commissioners voted unanimously Thursday night to lay out guidance for police officers regarding unresponsive people with a weapon.

Commissioners said it is the first such policy in the nation and comes after at least two people in such situations in the last five years were killed by police.

Demouria Hogg in 2015 and Joshua Pawlik in 2018 were either asleep or unconscious when police discovered them, and both were shot and killed by Oakland police.

"The Oakland Police Commission was proud to work with community members and OPD (Oakland Police Department) to unanimously pass a first of its kind, progressive policy on the treatment of armed and unresponsive citizens such that the Hogg's and Pawlik's of the world may never again have to pay with their lives," commission Chair Regina Jackson said in a statement.

The policy calls for a police response that is centered on preserving human life, including police, members of the public and the unresponsive person.

It emphasizes de-escalation, stresses a police response that is strategic rather than reactionary and distinguishes between a person with a gun and another weapon.

Officers are required to be aware of the needs of vulnerable populations, and among other things, it requires the use of other resources, such as a mobile crisis team, to help peacefully resolve a situation.

"I'm happy with the final document and proud of the hard work that we put in," Deputy Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong said in a statement.

He added that it's something that officers can be trained on, reinforces concepts introduced in a new use of force policy last year and can be an example for other police departments.

The policy, which is called the Armed Unresponsive Persons Policy, was ordered by U.S. District Judge William Orrick III following a review of Pawlik's death by Federal Monitor Robert Warshaw.

"Being able to have a voice in resolving some of the issues that led to those tragic events has provided me with hope for the future," said Omar Farmer, a member of the committee that was involved in forming the policy.

Farmer had lost confidence in the Police Department after witnessing how officers handled their response to Pawlik and Hogg.

For more details of the new policy, go to https://www.oaklandca.gov/topics/armed-and-unresponsive-persons-and-arrest-teams-hoc-committee.

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