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Rahm Says 'Accountability' So, So Much In Latest Presser On Police Shootings

By Mae Rice in News on Dec 7, 2015 10:41PM

In response to the news that there would be no criminal charges for the cop who fatally shot Ronald Johnson last year, Mayor Rahm Emanuel held his latest in a string of rambling, urgent press conferences on police accountability. He touched on the Ronald Johnson case, but mostly spoke generally about the Laquan McDonald shooting, police abuses, and the upcoming Department of Justice investigation. Many of his statements reflected points that critics of his administration have been voicing for years.

Throughout, Rahm circled back to certain ideas so frequently that I thought my livestream had a bug. It did not. He was just very, very adamant that:

  • Overall, he likes the police. "By and large, officers do a good job every day,” Rahm said. He has attended roll calls at a variety of precincts, to tell police this (and presumably other things) in person.

  • He does not like police who use excessive force. Rahm hopes that new policies and personnel changes will let his administration “interdict early, catch them, [and] hold them accountable.”

  • Chicago isn’t holding police very accountable right now. It “defies common sense,” he said, that of the last 400+ police shootings only two were ruled unjustified. The Independent Police Review Authority, which investigates police shootings, got a leadership shake-up earlier Monday—five months after the city fired a top investigator who determined that more shootings were unjustified.

  • He welcomes the Department of Justice to Chicago. "We welcome it, accept it, and need it. It's in our self-interest as a city.” Remember, the mayor's initial response to calls for a DOJ investigation was to say Chicago doesn't need it last week.

  • The system won’t be fixed overnight. “The problem [of police accountability] has a long history,” he said. “It will take a lot of work, over the years, to make the policy, the practices, and the personnel changes necessary [to fix it].”

  • But he doesn’t want the system to truck on unchanged. “We’re at an inflection point,” he said. Laquan McDonald’s shooting “cannot be just another incident."

  • In response to various questions about other subjects from reporters, Rahm hewed closely to these points. When pressed, he would sometimes add in a few of his favorite phrases, too, such as “accountability,” “trust,” and “we need to take a series of steps.” Those next steps would likely involve his fledgling police accountability task force, he said.