Chicago Police Department Proposes New Use-of-Force Policy

As a Justice Department probe hangs over the department, Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson seeks to use the least amount of force possible in police interactions.

Eddie Johnson speaks to the press after being sworn in as Chicago police superintendent April 13, 2016, in Chicago.
Eddie Johnson speaks to the press after being sworn in as Chicago police superintendent April 13, 2016, in Chicago. Scott Olson/Getty Images

Details of a new policy requiring Chicago police officers to use the least amount of force necessary and emphasizing “the sanctity of life” were released Friday by Chicago’s top cop.

ABC News reports that Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson told reporters at a news conference that the draft aims to “clarify response options to officers during split-second decisions or in the critical time before those moments while placing a heavy emphasis on the sanctity of life.”

The proposal comes as the Chicago Police Department is under investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice for the 2014 fatal shooting of black teenager Laquan McDonald. A white officer shot Laquan 16 times as he was walking away. The officer in the case, Jason Van Dyke, was charged with murder, and the former Police Superintendent, Garry McCarthy, was fired.

Under the proposed new policy, deadly force could be used only to prevent immediate threat of death or great bodily harm; officers are asked to de-escalate situations and not to use force unless “all other reasonable alternatives have been exhausted.”

Police would be required to offer medical aid to those injured in use-of-force incidents, and officers would be required to intervene if they see another officer violating department policy.

The policy includes the need for independent justification every time a tool such as a stun gun or baton is used in force.

The CPD has expanded its use of body cameras, and last month, departmentwide, 16-hour, mandatory de-escalation training was started to give a refresher on when deadly force is required, and how to better respond to complex and tense situations without using force.

The policy will undergo 45 days of public comment, after which the department will review contributions and have a final version of the policy by the end of the year. At that point, officers will be trained on the new policy.

Johnson called this a step toward promised transparency efforts and said that the department will use less-lethal methods as often as possible.

“When I say to you that this is a new day at CPD, it’s not a joke and I’m not kidding about it,” Johnson said.

Read more at ABC News.