SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Some of California’s top cops came together in San Francisco Thursday to discuss big questions over the use of force during a two-day symposium.

The University of San Francisco hosted 200 of the state’s top law enforcement.

The symposium comes as the city is battling its police union over changes to the use of force policy.

Deadly confrontations like the ones that cost Mario Woods and Luis Gongora their lives have sparked protest protests and added to the national debate.

San Francisco Interim Police Chief Toney Chaplin said the more distance they create between the officers and a suspect, the more time they have, and that time allows them to get more resources to de-escalate the situation.

“Creating that time and that distance; the longer these situations last, the more successful the outcome,” said Chaplin.

Law enforcement experts say many of the officer involved shooting cases happened within the first few minutes of police contact.

We’re teaching the officers to expand outward, if you can, and get as many officers to the scene as possible, said Chaplin. Not to specifically deal with the particular suspect, but to create that zone.

Chaplin says it’s very different than the traditional training of rushing in to remove a threat.

Police departments from across the state are sharing at the USF symposium what works and what doesn’t.

A Black Lives Matter sign was prominently displayed right in front of the conference center.

When there’s a use of force incident, it moves us farther away from our communities, said retired SFPD Commander Richard Corriea.

The high-level police leaders were also talking about ways to handle mentally-ill suspects.

An autistic person, for instances, can demonstrate some very unusual behaviors, said Corriea. But if you’re educated in what to look for, these officers will very quickly recognize this is an autistic response. Here’s how I can behave and lower the risk of a bad outcome.

Aside from training they also want to shift attitude, asking officers to go from the macho, warrior mentality to a more caring, guardian mentality.

This use of force symposium comes at an interesting period in San Francisco as the police union is suing the police commission over the new use of force policy, specifically shooting into moving vehicles.

Officers will be back at USF Friday for the last day of this two-day discussion.


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