A police car parked on College Avenue in Athens, Georgia on Thursday, October 3, 2019. (Photo/Taylor Gerlach)

On Oct. 26, Athens-Clarke County Police officers were attempting to question 45-year-old Nan Zhao when Zhao produced a handgun and fired at the officers, according to ACCPD. The officers, Sgt. Matt Smith and Ofc. Paul Harris, returned fire, killing Zhao. This was ACCPD’s sixth officer-involved shooting in 2019.

As of Oct. 28, when responding to domestic violence or armed suspect calls, officers will meet away from the reported incident location before proceeding to the scene, according to an Oct. 28 directive from Chief Cleveland Spruill, Sr. to all sworn ACCPD personnel.

The exception to the new rule is when “active violence is occurring against another,” the directive states.

Central communications will continue to dispatch a supervisor and two officers to the specified calls per longstanding department policy, according to the directive.

With the policy change, the department seeks to enhance officer safety and to lower the need for “higher levels of force,” according to the directive. The change may allow officers to apply methods aside from lethal force when responding to these calls.

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