The Chicago Police Department has rejected 150 proposed changes to its use of force policies recommended by a community working group that met weekly for months to help update the department’s rules on when and how officers can shoot their guns, deploy tasers or use their batons. The department has accepted only five suggestions from the group.
The working group is comprised of 34 members, including activists, civil rights leaders and politicians, who met for three hours every week since June, the Chicago Tribune reports. It was part of an effort by the police department to “increase community participation in policymaking, as required by the court-enforced police reform plan known as a consent decree.”
Now, members of the working group are calling the entire process a “sham.”
Working group member Amika Tendaji, who is an organizer with Black Lives Matter Chicago, called the department’s adoption of just five recommendations, “ridiculous.”
“I am in no way satisfied,” Tendaji said. “The spirit of what the working group tried to come up with is that police should have a stronger duty than the average Chicagoan to not hurt people, to not shoot people and to not beat people.”
The changes accepted by CPD’s “executive steering committee” which is made up of the most senior leadership at the Police Department, are largely focused on the language used in the policy, including changing the word “subject” to “person” in the use of force policy.
Chicago Police Department Deputy Chief Ernest Cato defended the changes, saying they would send clear messages to officers.
“You’re taking the word subject out and you’re making it a person. We’re now humanizing that individual, who you’re encountering … so I think that’s huge,” Cato, co-chair of the working group, said. “Now, when every police officer has to write a report, they’re going to say that person, not … that subject, but that person, that human being.”
Among the changes that were rejected, some focused on not allowing officers to carry weapons in certain situations or restricting when officers were allowed to draw their guns. The department also rejected recommendations that the city ban chokeholds, limit when tasers can be used and require that all force be used only as a tactic of last resort.