Just days after Chicago was rocked by the latest police-involved fatal shooting that killed a grandmother and college student, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel rushed back from vacation to release a plan for officers to use less deadly force.
Emanuel and Interim Chicago Police Supt. John Escalante on Wednesday are slated to announce a “‘de-escalation’ approach to handling potential conflicts and standoffs, including making sure every ‘operational’ on-duty officer is equipped with a Taser,” reportsThe Chicago Sun-Times.
All on-duty officers responding to dispatch calls will be equipped with a Taser and trained in using it by June 1, 2016, according to an emailed statement to the Sun-Times from Chicago Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi.
Without specifically mentioning the fatal shootings of Quintonio LeGrier and Bettie Jones by a Chicago Police officer in West Garfield Park last weekend, Emanuel said the move was a long time coming.
“While recent events have brought this issue to the forefront for us all, for far too long Chicago – like cities around the country — has faced far too many incidents where officers shot and killed unarmed people,” Emanuel said in a statement. “We need a new reality.”
With new training, officers will be encouraged to ask themselves questions such as: “What is the full range of options for how to respond?” “Do I need to take action immediately or can I slow the situation down and buy more time?” and “Am I the best person to deal with this or should I request assistance from Specialized Units such as a Crisis Intervention Team?”
Training under the new policy is scheduled to begin next week, notes the report.
Emanuel’s announcement comes amid ongoing protests for the mayor to step down over his handling of race matters and police-involved shootings in the city. Several protesters demonstrated outside his home on Tuesday evening.
The source’s account of what the officer said occurred comes days after Chicago police issued a statement saying that the officer fired at LeGrier after the teen became combative, but also acknowledged that Jones had been accidentally shot.
The law enforcement source said the officer, whom the source would not name, has been placed on a 30-day administrative leave, assigned to the Harrison District for administrative duties, per the department’s new policies.
The shooting of LeGrier and Jones sparked new calls for overhaul of how police interact with civilians, in the wake of outrage over the shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, who was shot 16 times by a police officer in November 2014.
In an effort to avoid such shootings, the Sun-Times reports that the city will add 700 Tasers — twice the current total — which will be “enough to equip every CPD officer who responds to calls for service on every shift.”
But Emanuel’s rushed plan only raises more questions. Namely, shouldn’t officers already be trained to de-escalate situations instead of drawing their weapons first?