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Chicago mayor to announce changes to police policy after shootings


Chicago mayor to announce changes to police policy after shootings

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CHICAGO – Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, under pressure following a series of fatal police shootings, is expected on Wednesday to unveil new strategies that will include equipping all officers with Tasers by June of next year.

Emanuel ended a vacation early this week to deal with fallout from the police shootings of a 55-year-old mother and a 19-year-old college student. Chicago police, under a federal civil rights investigation over the use of deadly force and other issues, have admitted the woman’s death was an accident.

Meanwhile, more protests were planned in Cleveland on Wednesday, two days after a grand jury decided not to charge two white police officers in the 2014 shooting death of Tamir Rice, a black 12-year-old boy who was playing in a park with a toy gun that shoots plastic pellets.

Cleveland officials said on Tuesday they will review Rice’s shooting to determine if the officers involved or others should face disciplinary action.

Tensions over race and policing in Chicago and Cleveland come amid intense scrutiny of police killings in the United States over the past 18 months, especially of black men. Protests have taken place around the country.

Emanuel and Interim Police Superintendent John Escalante on Wednesday will announce a “major overhaul” in policy covering police responses to incidents and the use of physical and lethal force, a mayoral spokeswoman said.

“The policy changes centre around de-escalation tactics to reduce the intensity of a conflict or a potentially violent situation at the earliest possible moment, emphasizing that the foremost goal is to protect the safety of all involved,” spokeswoman Lauren Huffman, said in a statement.

Not all Chicago police officers are currently equipped with Tasers, which are electroshock weapons that fire dart-like electrodes that incapacitate but are non-lethal.

In Chicago, protesters have called for Emanuel’s resignation after a video was released last month showing Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke, who is white, shooting Laquan McDonald, 17, in 2014. Van Dyke has pleaded not guilty to murder.

The ensuing turmoil led Emanuel to fire the police superintendent and create a task force to review police accountability.

While Emanuel was vacationing in Cuba, Bettie Jones, 55, and Quintonio LeGrier, 19, were killed on Dec. 26 by an officer responding to a call that LeGrier was threatening his father with a baseball bat. (Reuters)