Contact: Marilyn Katz

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Alderman Anthony Beale Calls for Chicago Police Department Reform


(December 29, 2015) Chicago - While Mayor Emanuel rightly takes responsibility for the reforming of the City’s police department, we in the City Council have an equally important responsibility – to ensure that what we know from our own lives and the lives of our constituents is reflected in the changes that are long overdue in the operation of the Chicago Police Department.   As the city – now the nation – talks about reforms, we know that to remedy the wrongs of the past will require:


An immediate increase in the hiring of Black and Latino officers to remedy the imbalance that currently exists in the department as a result of decades long hiring practices. More than 55% of Chicago’s 2.8 million population is non-white or minorities, however less than 50% of the Chicago Police Department’s 12,244 population is non-white or minorities. The Chicago Police Department’s population should be more in-line with the population for which it serves. Instituting new recruitment protocols and eliminating racially bias testing standards will help to balance the scales of justice within the police department. Only a police force that represents the community can be one that is seen as a protection of rather than a protection from the community;


An examination and an immediate rethinking of protocols for dealing with domestic issues, with the mentally challenged particularly those individuals wielding less-than-lethal weapons – Officers response to a domestic violence call of a man wielding a bat should not have led to the death of two individuals. All police procedures, including mental health crisis, should be examined to determine the deficiencies in the current training and determine what steps can be taken immediately to address them;


Federal funding so that all Chicago police personnel have standard issue taser guns and body cameras – If all police personnel are issued and properly trained on the use of taser guns, many crisis situations can be immediately resolved in non-lethal manners. ‘Shoot to kill’ should not be the standard but the exception to the rule. In addition, issuing all police personnel body cameras will assist current and future officers in their crisis intervention training and de-escalation policies;


Integration of police squad cars – All two-person police cars should have at least one minority officer. The minority officer’s cultural differences and experiences can be injected and potentially diffuse a potential high risk situation without the use of force.


While none of these is a panacea, together they provide the basis for curbing the excesses and building the trust that the city needs in order to move forward – together.