Crusader staff report
A draft of a proposed Chicago Police Department use-of-force report was released on March 7, giving more latitude to police officers in deciding whether to fire their weapons.
The draft comes as the police department is under pressure to change its practices after a blistering U.S. Department of Justice report was released in January. A proposal last October required officers in tough situations to “not use force unless all other reasonable alternatives have been exhausted.” But the police union officials said the proposal was too restrictive and could put officers in danger.
Now, a new proposal says officers should use de-escalation tactics only when it does not put their personal safety at risk. The police department is accepting comments on the new policy draft until March 16.
In a statement, Chicago Police Department spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said, “This latest draft is not the final policy and we wanted to put out the most recent version for an additional round of public feedback. Superintendent Johnson also reaffirmed his commitment to being thorough and transparent in this process, and working with community and department stakeholders to get it right.”
Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson, in news reports, rejected any suggestion that the department is backing away from implementing needed reforms. He suggested that changes were needed to protect police officers. “It is important that we balance public safety with officer safety so we are trying to get it right and we are trying to be transparent,” he said after an unrelated use of force event occurred at a school on the city’s West Side.
The proposal is drawing heavy criticism from activists, many of whom staged a protest in Chicago on Tuesday. Many attended a rally and march in Federal Plaza on Tuesday evening. In addition to the police department’s proposed use-of-force policy, protestors also criticized President Donald Trump and the treatment of minority groups.
Calling the CPD “already murderous,” Black Lives Matter activists are angry about the proposed use of force policy. They have voiced their anger against Mayor Rahm Emanuel and U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and President Donald Trump.
On its Facebook page, Black Lives Matter activists say, “Rahm is going to outright ignore and deflect the DOJ report that exposed the institutional racism, structural violence, crimes, terrorism and abuses by CPD. He is complicit in the murders happening in our city, by closing schools, mental health clinics, divestment, and driving policies and economic forces that expedite gentrification.”
Since the release of the police video that shows Officer Jason Van Dyke shooting 17-year-old Laquan McDonald 16 times, calls to reform Chicago’s notorious police culture have grown, as the number of murders and shootings have increased in record numbers.