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12 Jun, 2020 04:44

San Francisco cops banned from using tear gas, won’t respond to ‘non-criminal’ calls under police ‘demilitarization’ roadmap

San Francisco cops banned from using tear gas, won’t respond to ‘non-criminal’ calls under police ‘demilitarization’ roadmap

San Francisco Mayor London Breed has announced a bevy of police reforms, barring officers from using tear gas and “military-grade weapons” while working to divert non-urgent calls to agencies besides law enforcement.

The city’s Democratic mayor introduced the new measures in a statement on Thursday night, previewing a “roadmap” for police reforms on the heels of weeks of mass protests over the officer-involved killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

“This reform effort will focus on reducing the need for police to be first responders for non-criminal situations, and changing the Police Department’s hiring, promotional, training, and disciplinary systems to better reflect the department's fundamental mission,” Breed’s office said.

It will also focus on demilitarizing the police and redirecting funding to invest in marginalized communities.

As part of the push to demilitarize, the city will establish an “explicit policy barring the use of military-grade weapons against unarmed civilians,” including, but not limited to, “chemical weapons such as tear gas, bayonets, and tanks.” The department will have until the end of 2021 to rid its inventory of such weapons.

In hopes of cutting down on violent police interactions, non-criminal calls will also be diverted away from the San Francisco PD to “non-law enforcement agencies.” Other reforms include addressing possible bias among officers, strengthening accountability for misconduct and redirecting funds from police to programs that benefit minority communities that have been “systematically harmed” by past city policies.

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The mayor’s office said some of the reforms would be put into place “immediately,” while others will be implemented on an “ongoing basis,” but, with the exception of enhanced bias screening, did not specify which measures would take effect right away.

Breed’s new “roadmap” comes as calls for police reform pick up steam across the country, with some activists demanding to defund law enforcement or dissolve departments altogether. A number of similar reform measures have been proposed elsewhere, such as in New York City, where lawmakers have already introduced at least 10 such bills. Earlier on Thursday, US President Donald Trump also said he would soon sign an executive order pertaining to police and the use of force, though gave few other details.

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