Chicago police officials announced policy changes intended to cut back on questionable shootings and other uses of force that have haunted the department for years, the Chicago Tribune reports. The changes, made after months of back-and-forth revisions, will tighten rules that experts and advocates have criticized as too permissive of unnecessary uses of force. The policy changes — expected to take effect this fall — are a milestone for a department upended nearly 18 months ago by the release of video of a white officer shooting black teenager Laquan McDonald 16 times. The revised rules do not go so far in some respects as the rules proposed by police Superintendent Eddie Johnson in October, when the department and Mayor Rahm Emanuel faced more intense federal scrutiny amid the immediate fallout over the video.
The final version of the department’s main use-of-force policy substantially resembles the scaled-back proposal Johnson made in March after rank-and-file police complained that his first proposal was too extreme. In one key change, the policy says an officer can’t shoot a fleeing person unless that person presents an imminent threat to police or others. The rule that has been in place says an officer can shoot any person fleeing after committing or trying to commit a felony using force. The new policy also calls on officers to use their new de-escalation training to try to defuse incidents. The adopted language is less strict than Johnson’s first proposal, though. Officers have to try de-escalation only “when it is safe and feasible to do so.”