CHICAGO (CBS) — Some African American politicians representing the West Side said Thursday they want to see more than new Tasers and training for police officers as Mayor Rahm Emanuel seeks to rebuild public trust in the Chicago Police Department.
The elected officials met with interim Police Supt. John Escalante a day after he and Emanuel announced the Police Department would double the number of Tasers available to officers in the field, and improve training to make volatile situations “less confrontational and more conversational.”READ MORE: Chicago Police Officer Released From Hospital After Being Shot In Shopping Center Parking Lot At North And Sheffield Avenues
Ald. Emma Mitts (37th) said there needs to be a cultural shift in the Police Department, starting with understanding black culture.
“Many of our community people may talk with their hand or their neck. That don’t mean that they have a gun. Or because their pants are hanging down, that don’t mean you’re supposed to stereotype them as if they ain’t nobody,” she said. “Shoot first and ask questions later, we don’t want that to happen. We want them to be able to police our children, and lock them up for wrongdoing, but not shoot at them.”
The mayor and superintendent said the city has a responsibility to reduce the chances of mistakes police officers make in potentially volatile encounters by making sure they have the proper training to avoid abuses of power.
“There’s a difference between whether someone can use a gun, and when they should use a gun, and we as a city must train for that difference,” Emanuel said Wednesday.
Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin (D-1st) said police need to respect black people.READ MORE: Chicago Weather: Pleasant Parade Weather Tuesday
“We can’t legislate the human heart, but I think that what you have to do is make sure that the law is such that it holds officers accountable for their actions,” he said.
As an example, Boykin said Officer Jason Van Dyke should not have been allowed to continue working for more than a year after fatally shooting 17-year-old Laquan McDonald in October 2014. While Van Dyke was stripped of his police powers and placed on desk duty after the shooting, he was not suspended without pay until he was charged with murder last month.