In a significant new reform plan, Los Angeles police officials are launching an effort to reduce officers' use of deadly force by reviewing whether they could have done more to avoid the violent encounters, reports the Los Angeles Times.

Under a plan unanimously approved Tuesday by the Police Commission, the Los Angeles Police Department will begin evaluating whether officers did all they could to defuse tense situations before they used force and rewrite policies to emphasize this behavior. This review will occur along with the usual determination about whether officers were justified in the use of force.

In doing so, the LAPD will be turning "de-escalation" — a policing concept that dates back decades — into a policy with potential consequences for its 10,000 officers.

The move is already creating fault lines in the department. Backers say understanding how officers came to use force is essential to cutting the number of violent incidents and to improve police training.

But others, including the police union, worry the new policy will result in more second-guessing of split-second decisions made by officers and could even endanger police who avoid using force because they fear being disciplined.

Experts said the key will be identifying specific policy language that balances these issues — something the LAPD and other city officials are just beginning to develop.

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