City of Davis Independent Police Auditor Michael Gennaco and his company, The OIR Group, completed this audit to look at the Davis Police Department’s use of force in 2020 at the request of the City of Davis Police Accountability Commission. The audit was the first full audit recommended by the commission and undertaken by the auditor.
The audit compares the Davis Police Department’s current policies related to the use of force publicized in Campaign Zero’s “8 Can’t Wait” initiative, as well as reviewing practices on “no knock” warrants. Campaign Zero is a national organization committed to reducing police violence.
“The Davis Police department was found to be well below the California state average and below that of neighboring communities in use of force incidents,” said Gennaco. “In addition, our audit also details seven recommendations for policy changes that we believe will increase the transparency to police incidents, improve internal procedures and benefit the public.”
The police department used force less than 0.02% of the 44,416 total calls for service in 2020, putting the City below the State average of 0.06% reported by the Department of Justice.
A taser was used in six of the cases. Other uses of force in the cases involved strikes to the upper torso, a takedown and a knee applied to the neck/upper shoulder area of a prone subject (changes to policy to ban any neck holds were implemented later in 2020 by the department to prohibit such actions). In all cases, the department found the use of force to be legal and aligned with department policies. Three cases involved subjects who were suspected to have a mental illness with mental illness possibly being a factor in the remaining four cases. Three subjects were under the influence of drugs or alcohol with drugs or alcohol use being a possibility in the other four cases.
The audit found that Davis’ policies generally conform to the “8 Can’t Wait” model policies, although Gennaco did offer seven recommendations for the City to consider, including more detailed reporting and analysis of use of force incidents, debriefs with mental health clinicians when a subject is in mental health crisis and a revision of warning shot policy.
“This detailed report gives the City and the Davis Police Department guidance on continued improvement of police policies,” said City Manager Mike Webb. “We are gratified to see that use of force is a rare occurrence in Davis community policing and that many of the police department policies go above and beyond ‘8 Can’t Wait’ recommendations.”
The “8 Can’t Wait” policy areas are:
• Ban chokeholds and strangleholds
• Require warning before shooting (verbal warning not expressly required)
• Require de-escalation
• Exhaust alternatives before shooting
• Officers’ duty to intervene
• Ban shooting at moving vehicles
• Require use of force continuum
• Comprehensive reporting of force
“These recommendations from Mr. Gennaco align well with the action the City Council took on Sept. 7 to partner with Yolo County on implementation of ‘Crisis Now,’ a comprehensive effort to respond and provide support to those in mental health crisis, and to better equip our public safety responses accordingly,” noted City Manager Webb.
The Police Accountability Commission will hear a presentation by Mr. Gennaco at its regular meeting on Monday, Oct. 4, at 6:30 p.m. The report is posted at: https://www.cityofdavis.org/city-hall/police-department/administration/independent-police-auditor