The Vallejo Police Department is among several law enforcement agencies across the country reassessing use-of-force policies and is asking for the public’s help.
It’s part of a three-year reform plan to improve policing and build public trust, the department says.
Last year, 21 officers in the U.S. were charged with murder or manslaughter. In 2020, that number was 16. According to data collected by Bowling Green University, the number has grown each year in recent years.
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Last year was the first in more than two decades that Vallejo police had no officer-involved shootings. The department has been subject to reform for several years.
In 2019, the Vallejo Police Department underwent an independent assessment that resulted in 45 recommendations for change.
In 2020, the city entered into a three-year agreement with the California Department of Justice to improve training and accountability, among other things. That same year, the department worked with the Solano County District Attorney’s Office on a "fatal incident protocol" for use in officer-involved shootings.
In 2021, Vallejo PD saw a 40% decrease in police use of force and zero officer involved shootings.
Now, the deparment is asking the public to weigh in on a slate of proposed reforms. The department already bans chokeholds and requires that officers document every time they pull their weapon on someone, even if they don’t fire.
One of the reasons for the reform is the 2020 police shooting of 22-year-old Sean Monterrosa. An independent investigation found that the officer who killed Monterrosa violated department policy by not trying to de-escalate the situation before firing his service rifle through the windshield of his patrol car.
At the time, Monterrosa was in a Walgreen’s parking lot with a hammer in his pocket that police say the officer mistook for a gun.
Vallejo police say the proposed reforms keep the communty and officers safer.
"You’ll see the enhanced focus on the sanctity of life prior to using force while building trust and legitimacy within our community," department spokesperson Brittany K. Jackson said. "You’ll also see harm reduction, de-escalation, accountability, and that is a matter of reducing injuries to officers and citizens alike."
Vallejo PD is accepting public feedback on its reforms through March 14 online at myvallejo.com, and on Feb. 23, the department will host a town hall meeting.