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L.A. Police Union Thinks Award For Not Killing Suspects Is 'A Terrible Idea'

Beck during a Feb. 2010 meeting (Photo by NewsSpy via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr)
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The LAPD decided to give an award to officers who were able to de-escalate intense situations without using lethal force. And the L.A. Police Union thinks it's a terrible idea. LAPD Chief Charlie Beck announced last Tuesday that the department would be introducing a new award, the Preservation of Life medal. This high honor would be given to officers who were able to resolve dangerous situations with non-lethal means, the Associated Press reports. Given all the attention surrounding police brutality and shootings, the award seems like a step in the right direction.

But, not so fast. A blog from Los Angeles Police Protective League titled "Preservation of Life award: a terrible idea that will put officers in even more danger" was published Thursday. The blog states that the award "suggests that officers must go above and beyond their normal activities to avoid harm; or put another way, that officers will be penalized for resorting to an appropriate, lawful use of force. That is ludicrous. The last thing an LAPD officer wants to do is to harm, or worse yet, take the life of a suspect."

The blog also asserted that this award puts the lives of alleged criminals above those of officers. "What we don’t want to see is a flag-draped coffin and the Chief speaking at an officer’s funeral stating, 'This brave officer will be awarded the Preservation of Life medal.' This is simply a bad idea," the blog continues.

Beck said that last week the idea for the award came to him during an incident in early November where Metro officers were able to take down a man wielding a sawed-off shotgun without shooting and killing him, the L.A. Times reports. He also mentioned times in which officers were unable to subdue a suspect without using force: in particular, he mentioned a shooting that occurred in Lake Balboa on November 9, and noted how many recent use-of-force incidents involved suspects who were black.

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An investigation by KPCC showed that at least 375 people were shot and killed by police officers in L.A. County between January 1, 2010 and December 31, 2014. A quarter of these people were unarmed. It also showed that officers fatally shot black people three times as often as white and Latino people.

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