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Chicago Police's New Use Of Force Policy Focuses On 'Sanctity Of Life'

By aaroncynic in News on May 17, 2017 5:59PM

Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson at a press conference announcing the findings of a Department of Justice Investigation into CPD. Photo by Aaron Cynic.

The Chicago Police Department announced its finalized changes to its use of force policy, which Superintendent Eddie Johnson said in a Wednesday morning press conference would focus on the “sanctity of life.”

“These policies are centered around the sanctity of life, with the use of deadly force as a last resort,” said Johnson.

The policy, which Johnson said was more restrictive than the State of Illinois’ use of force policy, will go into effect in the fall of 2017, after all members of the police department take a 4 hour training course. Beginning in 2018, officers will also have to take an 8 hour “scenario based” training course.

"We will, we will be a department that is better for the citizens of Chicago and better for the brave men and women that make up its ranks," said Johnson.

The policy is a result of a more than year-long review of best practices, with commentary from both officers and members of the community. The new rules include the use of deescalation tactics, but in a weaker way. Under a draft released last year, officers would’ve been required to use the least amount of force required, and stressed de-escalation. A March revision weakened those standards, and the new policy says de-escalation tactics should be used when its "safe and feasible" given the "totality" of circumstances in the situation.

According to the Department, the policy still calls for the use of force “only as a last resort.” In addition, the policy also bars the use of “excessive force, discriminatory force, force used as punishment or retaliation, and force used in response to an individual exercising their First Amendment rights.

According to Johnson, officers are also instructed to immediately request medical aid for injured persons, and if properly trained, provide immediate medical care until paramedics arrive.

Chicago Police Board President Lori Lightfoot called the policy a “good step in the right direction."

“It’s truly been a historic process,” said Lightfoot. “It’s been a historic process, good process, and resulted in a policy we can all embrace and be proud of...Clearly more work needs to be done, but I think we should all be thankful of the process and the content and support and training all of you will receive in how to do your jobs better.”