Chicago Police Move Away From “Up Against The Wall” Searches


“Up against the wall” is an iconic image – police officers frisking suspects who lean with hands pressed against the wall. The Chicago Tribune reports that law enforcement trainers say it might not be the safest way for officers to conduct a search, considering how a suspect could push off the wall with added force to slam into the officer. Chicago police training instructors have moved away from teaching recruits to do searches that way in recent years. Instead, trainees are taught to make suspects stand, then hold one arm of the suspect and perform a one-handed pat-down.

Such shifts show how the department regularly re-evaluates what it teaches recruits, with an eye toward keeping officers safe in confrontations in which split-second, life-and-death decisions can face intense scrutiny or lead to lawsuits. Instruction on everything from chokeholds – no longer taught – to how an officer should draw a weapon has been examined and re-examined over the years at the training academy. Now the department is bringing in even veteran cops for refresher training. Since November, the department has been offering courses on topics including the use of force, tactical driving, protecting a weapon, and shooting techniques. Commanders of the city’s 25 police districts are sending officers with more than 20 years on the job. The academy also offers a physical-fitness class and health and wellness information to veteran officers.

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