Las Vegas police unveiled a new use of force policy that Sheriff Doug Gillespie said should reduce shootings by his officers and improve the department’s relationship with the community, reports the Las Vegas Review-Journal. The new policy, which emphasizes that officers “respect the value of every human life” and advises attempts to de-escalate potentially dangerous situations, is part of a six-month review after several controversial shootings and an investigative series by the newspaper.
Changes to this policy, which hasn’t been overhauled since the 1990s, emphasize smarter interactions with civilians. New language states the agency is “committed to protecting people, their property and rights” and that “the application of deadly force is a measure to be employed in the most extreme circumstances.” Officers must be mindful that people not complying with their orders “may not be capable of understanding the gravity of the situation,” and those situations should be dealt with without using force, when safe. Public criticism of the police department has been high since the high-profile shootings of Trevon Cole and Erik Scott in 2010. Officers have fired at civilians five times during the first half of this year, which Gillespie said was the lowest number for a six-month period in 10 years.