Sacramento Police Department will implement new practices after investigation

Almost a year after Stephon Clark’s death, Department of Justice gives SPD new ways to improve


Senate Democrats - CC BY 2.0

Xavier Becerra, then the representative of California’s 34th congressional district, speaks at a congressional Democrat press conference on June 25, 2015. Becerra, now attorney general of California, announced the finding of his office’s investigation the Sacramento Police Department.

Francina Sanchez

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced the Department of Justice released a report on force-related policies, training and practices in the Sacramento Police Department in a press conference Jan. 29.

This press conference comes almost a year after Sacramento received nationwide attention when two Sacramento Police officers fatally shot a 22-year-old. Stephon Alonzo Clark was in the backyard of his grandparents’ house when he was shot in March 2018.

The shooting, which was captured on the police officers’ body cams, sparked protests throughout the city, where demonstrators called on the SPD to make changes within the department to be more transparent with the community.

RELATED: Stephon Clark shooting leads to weeks of protest in Sacramento

The DOJ said the shooting and death of Clark was a tragedy for not only his friends and family, but for the entire Sacramento community.

According to the executive summary, the DOJ launched an independent investigation of the SPD in concern with Clark’s death.

The report said the purpose of the investigation was to provide recommendations “grounded in evidence and promising practices from around the country to help guide the reform efforts.”

The six areas of focus included use of force policies, use of force reporting and investigation, use of force training, officer-involved shooting incident review, personnel complaint procedures and community engagement and transparency.

Some recommendations included implementing more community outreach and making meetings more accessible to the city’s residents.

According to the DOJ’s report, the more than 650 sworn officers of SPD are a diverse group that serve the city’s large population, roughly 500,000. The DOJ said the SPD is a direct reflection of the city’s diversity and will continue to find ways to improve community engagement with all groups.

“The Sacramento Police Department’s willingness to analyze not only the incident but also it’s force-related policies and systems in an effort to attain safer outcomes in the future is encouraging as is the community’s willingness to participate in the process,” said the DOJ in its report.

The report is a part of the ongoing work the DOJ will continue to do with the SPD as it begins to put into effect the recommendations provided.