Community Members Cast Doubts on New Sacramento Police Foot Pursuit Policy

SACRAMENTO -- In the wake of the death of Stephon Clark, the Sacramento Police Department announced a new policy for officers involved in foot pursuits.

When you talk with teenagers in South Sacramento's Meadowview neighborhood, the shooting death of 22-year-old Stephon Clark at the hands of two Sacramento police officers is still fresh on their minds.

"It was a very crazy tragedy that shouldn’t have happened," said Sacramento resident Damari Vaughn.

Vaughn takes part in Motivating Other Brothers, a summer program for young men that focuses on alternatives to violence. He says a change in police policy has been needed in the city for a long time as he often feels targeted by officers for being black.

"Simple things, you might be out too late, you might get harassed," Vaughn said.

On Monday, Sacramento police announced a change to discourage foot pursuits in risky situations. It's the first police policy change since Clark's death in March.

The policy says officers will now have to weigh their own safety and that of the public’s before and during a pursuit, as well as evaluate the importance of the arrest.

They’re also now being asked to identify themselves as police to the suspects they’re chasing and to activate their body cameras as soon as the chase starts. In addition, they must give details for the video, including the reason for the foot pursuit.

"I don’t believe that this is a moment for the community to celebrate," said community activist Berry Accius. "It’s a moment for the city, as well as the police, to act as though they’re doing something grand for the people when they’re not."

Accius is the founder of Voice of the Youth, which operates the program Vaughn is in. He says the new policy does not address what consequences officers would face if they don’t follow them.

"We want these officers if they have done wrong, to be convicted," Accius said.

He says the new policy took too long. It went into effect on July 26, according to the department, about four months after Clark's death.

"It’s almost putting another Band-Aid on cancer and this is a minute ... it’s not even a big step," Accius told FOX40. "We’re not celebrating it at all because this is something that they should have done as soon as this whole chaotic situation happened."

"Yeah, at least they’re trying something but we need more," Vaughn said.

Meanwhile, Vaughn says if the new policy was in place the night Clark was shot and killed, he doubts it would have saved his life. He has a hard time believing the new policy will make things better in his community.