Tyre Nichols' death prompts call for national policing standards

A candlelight vigil in Sacramento Monday for Tyre Nichols drew a crowd to the skate park where the 29-year-old skateboarder enjoyed spending time while living in the area.

Friends remembered Nichols' "radiant" smile as they honored his life. Nichols moved to Memphis three years ago. His funeral is set for Wednesday at a Memphis church.

His death, after a beating by Memphis police officers who had detained him for a traffic stop, has prompted a nationwide call for national policing and training standards.

On Monday, Memphis police fired two more officers, bringing the total to seven officers dismissed over the incident.

The Memphis Fire Department also fired two EMTs and a lieutenant for not providing sufficient care for Nichols' injuries. 

"I've been on almost 28 years. I was absolutely floored," said Sean Pritchard, president of the San Jose Police Officers Association, which has partnered with police unions in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Hawaii to call for nationwide policing standards. Their website "Invest in Policing" details specific standards and areas of concern they say should be addressed. 

"There needs to be really national minimum standards on certain things like use of force, early intervention warning systems, identifying officers that may be having issues at work, trying to get them some counseling or additional training," said Pritchard.

San Francisco's Police Chief William Scott agrees. He says the big challenge, however, is that every state and jurisdiction can have different laws for policing.

"With 18,000 police departments, we're not a country that has a national police force like some countries do, so it becomes a little more difficult in terms of enforcing standardized training across the country," said Chief Scott.

Chief Scott says in 2019 his department created a special unit that analyzed foot pursuits and use of force incidents and came up with a new "Critical Mindset, Critical Response" training program. 

"The officers involved have to coordinate. The mindset has to be right in terms of not letting the situation get out of hand or out of control. And we don't get it perfect, but that training helped us get much better," said Chief Scott, "End of 2016 until 2021... a little over 60% decrease in use of force."

That data on use-of-force was laid out in a quarterly report by San Francisco Police, who noted that the end of 2022 reflected a change in reporting definitions which now include any incident when an officer draws a weapon, regardless of whether it is used.

Chief Scott says policing culture is also important. He says San Francisco police have worked to create a policing culture that shows "Safety with Respect," instilling that in officers, even when they need to use force.

"We don't do it because of retaliation. We don't do because we're angry. We do it because it's appropriate to use that level of force and that's what I'm talking about," said Chief Scott.

Five of the former Memphis police officers have been charged with second-degree murder and other crimes.

The Congressional Black Caucus is calling for a meeting with President Biden about national policing reforms and the potential for re-introducing the "George Floyd Justice in Policing Act" which failed to pass the Senate last year.

Jana Katsuyama is a reporter for KTVU.  Email Jana at jana.katsuyama@fox.com and follow her on Twitter @JanaKTVU or Facebook @NewsJana or ktvu.com.