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Sacramento police will learn how to approach mentally ill suspects without deadly force

How police shootings and protests are leading to reform measures

Sacramento police attended a critical incident training from the Police Executive Forum in December 2016 to learn better ways to diffuse incidents with mentally ill people and other critical incidents.
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Sacramento police attended a critical incident training from the Police Executive Forum in December 2016 to learn better ways to diffuse incidents with mentally ill people and other critical incidents.

The Sacramento Police Department announced Tuesday that some staff will attend training to handle complex incidents, such as those involving mentally ill suspects, with less force.

Next month, a “team of representatives” will attend a two-day course in New Orleans that “concentrates on giving police officers more options for responding to certain types of incidents that often end with a use of force but which might be resolved differently with de-escalation,” according to a release from the department.

The training is being conducted by the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF), a national think tank that has pushed law enforcement to reconsider policies on using deadly force in the wake of national unrest with police shootings.

Locally, the officer shootings of Dazion Flenaugh in April and Joseph Mann in July have forced the issue of police reform. Police said Flenaugh was armed with a pickax and two knives, while Mann had a knife and acted erratically prior to his death. Families of both men said they suffered from mental illness.

The City Council on Tuesday will debate a package of oversight and accountability measures, including the public release of video footage.

Ed Obayashi, a law enforcement officer and use-of-force expert, said that PERF often focuses on “hot-button issues” and examines best practices for tactics and procedures.

The training involves scenario-based activities and case studies, according to the release. It was developed in April 2016 and implemented in six departments as a pilot program, according to its online training guide, including the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) police.

It is unknown how many officers will attend the training. The police department did not immediately return calls for comment.

Anita Chabria: 916-321-1049, @chabriaa

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