CHICAGO (CBS) — Amid an ongoing Justice Department probe of its policies and procedures regarding the use of force, the Chicago Police Department has unveiled new limits on how and when officers can use force in the line of duty.
The new policy emphasizes officers use a slower, more cautious approach when it comes to deadly force.
“The goal is to make everybody accountable in the Police Department, from me on down to the last probationary police officer. That’s the goal,” said Police Supt. Eddie Johnson.
The department looked at policies in Los Angeles, Seattle, New Orleans, and D.C. as models for the “best practices” in the use of force as it worked to overhaul its own policy in the wake of the fallout from the Laquan McDonald shooting.
Video of the shooting was made public nearly a year ago, prompting a wave of public protests and national outrage, as it showed Officer Jason Van Dyke shooting the teenager 16 times as McDonald appeared to be walking away from police. The U.S. Justice Department launched a civil
Among the new restrictions, there must be an “immediate threat” before an officer can use force against a fleeing suspect. The current policy allows officers to shoot a suspect who “poses a threat.”
The superintendent said this is just part of the bigger challenge of keeping Chicago safe for everyone.
“The Police Department isn’t the reason for the crime in our city, or the violence in our city. You know, we’re suffering from a whole lot of socioeconomic ills that contribute to that, but this is a small piece of it,” he said.
Anne Kirkpatrick, chief of the department’s Bureau of Organizational Development, said officers now will not only be trained and expected to report another officer who violates the use of force policy, but they will be expected to intervene.
“The word intervention is critical here; that they would step in and stop an event,” she said.
Johnson said the overlying emphasis is on transparency.
“I think that’s a good thing. My only agenda is to make things better for the city of Chicago and for CPD. If I can make CPD better, then we make the city of Chicago better,” he said.
The policy will undergo a 45-day public comment period before every officer in the department is trained on the new rules. CPD expects to begin using the new policy in January.
“We just want to make sure that our officers are clear on when and how to use use of force, and be confident in the decisions that they make,” Johnson said.