LA County sheriff orders deputies to use more caution in pursuits, shootings

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Sheriff Lee Baca at a press conference at the Los Angeles Sheriffs Department June 8, 2007 in Monterey Park, California.

Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca wants his deputies to show more caution when pursuing suspects. The new policy follows a series of incidents in which deputies shot and killed unarmed suspects.

The new policy says deputies should take time to call for backup and contain suspects at the scene instead of run after them as fast as they can — a practice that can lead to unnecessary deadly confrontations.

“You only have two seconds to make that decision to shoot. When you contain someone, you have more time,” said Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca.

Baca said he knows the public is concerned about "careless" shootings by deputies. Over the last year or so, deputies have shot and killed six unarmed people.

“I don’t want deputies to just run after somebody, turn a corner and all of a sudden you’re faced with a life and death decision. You have to be more tactical. Cautious is the operating word here.”

Michael Gennaco heads the Office of Independent Review that monitors the Sheriff’s Department. He said a “catch them at all costs” culture persists there.

Some deputies, he said, seem to take their cue from TV.

“Television unfortunately educates the public on how police should perform and unfortunately educates police officers on how they should perform.”

A reporter asked Gennaco if the new policy amounts to a "no gunslinger" edict.

“I do think you want to get away from that 'gunslinger' mentality.”

Baca said deputies should still immediately confront suspects who pose an imminent threat to someone’s life.

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