Changes to Be Announced in Chicago Police Training, Tasers

By The Associated Press
The Associated Press
The Associated Press
December 30, 2015 Updated: December 30, 2015

CHICAGO—Chicago officials are expected to announce changes in police training, including a requirement that every officer responding to service calls be equipped with a Taser.

A statement from Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office late Tuesday night said Emanuel and Interim Police Superintendent John Escalante would announce Wednesday “a major overhaul” of the policy regarding how officers respond to incidents and the use of force.

The statement said the police department will also begin to require every officer who “responds to calls for service” to be equipped with a Taser and trained to use it by June 1, 2016.

The mayor’s office had already said some changes in training would be forthcoming in the wake of the release of dashcam video last month showing white officer Jason Van Dyke shooting black 17-year-old Laquan McDonald 16 times in 2014. Van Dyke, who is charged with murder, pleaded not guilty Tuesday.

The release of the video set off protests, forced the resignation of the city’s police chief and has led to an ongoing wide-ranging civil rights investigation of the entire Chicago Police Department by the U.S. Department of Justice. Community activists have also called for Emanuel’s resignation.

The statement does not specifically mention the McDonald shooting but says, “The policy changes center 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.”

Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi didn’t immediately return a message from The Associated Press seeking further details about the plan.

Another police shooting over the weekend has sparked further criticism of the department. Chicago police killed two people, a 55-year-old woman who was shot accidentally and a 19-year-old man police described as “combative” before he was shot. Both were black. Police have not released the race of the officer or officers involved and will not say how many officers fired their weapons or what the man and woman were doing before they were shot.