In an effort to teach restraint to the city’s police officers, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is introducing some major changes to the Chicago Police Department. The news comes as the city has experienced widespread protests, in which citizens have complained that Chicago police officers are too quick to resort to using firearms. Mayor Emanuel says that the Chicago Police must be more disciplined when it comes to deciding when it is necessary to use a gun.
The Chicago Police Department has stated that they will make Tasers more accessible to officers so that they will be encouraged to use non-lethal means to control criminals. The department is also working to restore public trust in the wake of accusations of officers using excessive force.
Mayor Emanuel said, “Our police officers have a very difficult and dangerous job. They put their lives on the line so the rest of us can be safe. And like all of us, they are human and they make mistakes. Our job is to reduce the chances of mistakes. That requires us to give them the right guidance, the right training, and the right culture, to prevent abuses. Willful misconduct and abuse cannot and will not be tolerated.”
According to the Mayor, police encounters should be based on conversation more than confrontation. Ultimately, force should be an option of last resort, and officers should try to discuss matters peacefully before turning to violence.
By next June, every patrol car in Chicago is set to be equipped with a non-lethal Taser weapon. Interim police superintendent John Escalante has stated that the move was inspired by other police departments across the country.
Both Mayor Emanuel and the Chicago Police Department have faced heavy public scrutiny in recent weeks, stemming from a 2014 incident in which police officer Jason Van Dyke shot 17 year old Laquan McDonald 16 times. Officer Dyke is currently facing six first-degree murder counts, and he has pled not guilty.
Additionally, the Chicago police have caused other casualties recently, killing 55 year old Bettie Jones and 19 year old Quintonio LeGrier. Many people of Chicago have completely lost trust in their city’s police force, and are calling for a civilian police force that isn’t appointed by the city’s mayor. The department has since had its practices reviewed by the city’s Independent Police Review Authority.