Chicago Police Training In De-Escalation Tactics

The Chicago Police Department has launched a new, mandatory program to train cops in de-escalation tactics that could minimize fatal officer-involved shootings.

Cops in the Windy City have been involved in several controversial confrontations over allegations of unreasonable or excessive use of force. Police forces all across the country have come under similar scrutiny after several similar incidents.

On July 28, an alleged 18-year-old car thief suspect was fatally shot by several Chicago cops who were subsequently stripped of their police powers pending an investigation. “The shooting is another blow to a city already suffering from high crime and mistrust between the police and black residents, and a setback for a department that is trying to shed a reputation for excessive force and secrecy,” the New York Times reported several days later.

Yesterday, a federal civil rights indictment was filed against a Chicago cop who opened fire on six black teenagers during a traffic stop in December 2013, NBC Chicago reported. Two of the teens were wounded.

Last week, a special prosecutor put the wheels in motion to convene a grand jury to decided whether to charge several Chicago officers for allegedly lying about the circumstances surrounding the fatal police shooting of Laquan McDonald on October 20, 2014.

“An unknown number of officers are being investigated for allegedly covering up for their colleague, Jason Van Dyke, who fatally shot Mr. McDonald 16 times. It took over a year—and a court order—before Chicago officials released dashboard camera video from the event, which shows a dramatically different account of the shooting than what was described by the officers,” the Wall Street Journal explained.

Officer Van Dyke has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder.

All patrol cops in Chicago are scheduled to be outfitted with body cameras by the year 2018, the Chicago Sun-Times noted.

According to the Chicago Tribune, about 200 cops have already completed a new de-escalation training program.

“After years of paying out tens of millions of dollars in lawsuits over excessive force, the city is now bringing officers in for training that emphasizes ‘de-escalation’ tactics to try to reduce the number of fatal confrontations. The department has laid out an ambitious schedule to train its entire 12,500 sworn workforce in about a year’s time, holding classes six days a week…When Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced the training in December in the fallout over the Laquan McDonald shooting video, he promised a spring 2016 launch. But it took months to design the curriculum, co-written by [Sgt. Larry] Snelling and tested with local and national policing experts.”

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The Tribune noted that instructors have a “delicate balancing act,” in that they are trying to help their law enforcement colleagues “recognize times they should use slower, calmer approaches without losing their confidence to use deadly force when needed to protect themselves and others…The training allows them to practice when to use lethal and nonlethal approaches — and understanding the difference. But if they do use a deadly weapon, they should be able to defend the decision.”

In the city’s ongoing crime wave, about 3,000 shootings and 500 homicides have occurred so far this year in Chicago. In August alone, there were approximately 90 murders, the most violent month in two decades, CBS Chicago explained. The city is on track for 600 homicides by the end of the year, the Inquisitr previously detailed. The last time the city saw such violence was in 2003, and more murders have taken place in Chicago this year than New York and Los Angeles combined. Over Labor Day weekend, there were 65 shootings, 13 of which took the life of the victim. Much of the ongoing violence in Chicago appears to be gang-related, CBS News indicated.

Watch a Chicago Tribune video about the hands-on de-escalation or force mitigation classroom training.

Because of the so-called Ferguson effect, Chicago cops “have cut back drastically on proactive policing,” the Manhattan Institute claimed.

Do you think that de-escalation training will have a positive effect on police-community relations in Chicago?

[Featured Image by M. Spencer Green/AP Images]