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Every Chicago Police Officer Is Now Trained To Use A Taser

By Mae Rice in News on May 31, 2016 7:51PM

Photo of a police taser from October, 2011. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)

As of this week, every Chicago police officer responding to calls has been trained on how to properly use a taser, the Chicago Police Department announced Tuesday. Officers responding to calls will now be issued a taser at the beginning of each shift. The aim of the change is to create "the safest environment possible" for police and civilians, according to a CPD press release.

The shift is also is in keeping with a commitment Mayor Rahm Emanuel made in December to increase taser usage among Chicago police. Emanuel's commitment came in the aftermath of the release of the Laquan McDonald video, which showed 17-year-old McDonald being fatally shot by officer Jason Van Dyke (who has since been charged with murder). At the time, tasers were used by Chicago's police force, but not every officer had been trained to use one. Emanuel hoped to change that, as part of a larger effort to encourage officers to de-escalate conflicts—rather than killing someone within seconds of arriving on the scene, as Van Dyke did.

Though tasers are meant to lower the incidence of the fatal, police-involved shootings, especially of black people, that have caused a stream of protests in Chicago since the McDonald footage was released, they come with their own pitfalls. Tasers can be abused, too—as they appeared to be in the case of Philip Coleman, who died soon after being tased while lying on a cot. (His family received a $4.9 million settlement from the city in April.)

Also, once an Elgin police oficer accidentally tased himself while trying to arrest a naked man, an incident that ultimately sent two police officers to the hospital.