Chicago Police Push Reforms After DOJ Report

CHICAGO (CN) – Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson announced new department reforms intended to fix issues found in a scathing report released by the Justice Department in January.

A Chicago Police Department press release issued Tuesday night says the reform plan “emphasizes a commitment to strengthen community policing, officer training, manpower, supervision, and public accountability” while supporting officers in fighting gun violence.

The DOJ investigation – announced after CPD came under fire with the release of police dashcam video showing the fatal shooting of black teenager Laquan McDonald by a white officer – led to an agreement with the department to work towards a consent decree addressing its findings.

The report revealed a police force that sometimes shoots at fleeing suspects and into cars when no threat is posed. Officers were using violence to punish suspects in place of proper de-escalation techniques. These tactics were seen being used especially in black and Latino neighborhoods.

The DOJ blamed inadequate training, lack of accountability and lack of support for officers for the civil rights violations and erosion in the city’s trust in its police force.

The department is aiming to rebuild that trust by investing in community policing and accountability measures.

A panel will “provide proposals for ways the Department can engage and collaborate with communities to fight crime and restore trust,” CPD said.

A training oversight committee and an overhaul of training procedures will better address issues officers face in the field, according to the department.

The department said it also has an outside consultant reviewing how officers are deployed and where they would be better positioned.

Addressing the public outcry against police violence, CPD asked for comments on a draft of its new use of force policy, and recently posted a second draft that takes those ideas into account. A final version will be adopted soon that includes an emphasis on the sanctity of life, de-escalation techniques and limits on deadly use of force.

Officer body cameras will be rolled out citywide and CPD says there will be more transparency in reports of officer misconduct. The changes are outlined in a booklet released by the department Tuesday.

“CPD is on a path to reform and we will address the challenges we face to provide better service to every Chicagoan,” Superintendent Johnson said in a statement. “Many of the challenges we address in this framework have built up over years and we will not solve them overnight, but this signifies an important step in our reform efforts.”

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