New Chicago Use-of-Force Policy Stresses Life Sanctity

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Moving to get past a scandal over black teenager Laquan McDonald, who was shot 16 times by a police officer, the Chicago police department is preparing a new policy on use of force that prioritizes the sanctity of life, the Wall Street Journal reports. A draft of the new guidelines, first published in October, has been made available to the public for a nearly two-month-long period, ending Monday. About 400 public comments have been received so far in this first-of-its-kind effort by the Chicago police to glean public feedback on its internal policies.

A dashboard camera video of the 2014 McDonald shooting showed the teen veering away from police when he was shot. That was a different version of events than initially described by officers, leading to accusations of a cover up. In April, a city task force on police accountability set up in response to the shooting called for sweeping changes to the nation’s second-largest police department, including publicly acknowledging a history of racial discrimination and disbanding an agency in charge of investigating officer misconduct. The draft of the new policy says the department’s “highest priority is the sanctity of human life” and that department members “will act with the foremost regard for the preservation of human life”—language missing entirely from the previous draft, which dates back to 2002. The draft also states that officers must seek to de-escalate situations as soon as possible and won’t resort to force unless other alternatives have been exhausted or are impractical. Chicago police have killed 11 people this year, including three in a single week in November.

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