Chicago - Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson announced that the department has eased up on a proposed use of force policy. The original policy was far too restrictive on officers who would be legally justified in using force during the performance of their duties.
However, even with the revisions, it appears as if the focus of the Rahm Emanuel administration is focusing on the officers as the problem. The very same officers who are working in some of the most dangerous communities in the country.
The first draft of the proposed policy originally released in October had police officers concerned about repercussions from making split second decisions regarding the use of force, according to the Chicago Tribune.
The newspaper references "policing experts" who are now concerned about the latest policy changes which ease up on the overly harsh restrictions. And as is always the case with use of force issues, the "experts" cited have no police training or experience, yet they convince others that they are qualified experts on police use of force.
The department's new draft has eased up on some of the most outlandish requirements.
The original draft ordered Chicago police officers to utilize “de-escalation training” to defuse a situation before using force. Per the policy, if the officers or another victim were in imminent danger of death or serious injury, the officers would have been required to try to talk to the suspects before belatedly using force to stop the threat.
For the anti-police crowd, "de-escalation" is a sort of magical spell which can instantly calm a hostile individual. In reality, all officers can do is try to talk to somebody who isn't already past the point of listening.
The new draft has been revised to include that de-escalation should be used “when it is safe and feasible,” which is absolutely the only time that "de-escalation" should be attempted.
The new policy is essentially saying that officers don't need to attempt de-escalation when it's not safe or feasible. You may wonder who could possibly want officers to attempt de-escalation when it's unsafe and not feasible. Well, Chicago Tribune's cited "policing experts" are some of the ones pushing it. After being told of the policy change, one of these unqualified "experts" said:
"Any kind of backing away from de-escalation is deeply troubling," said Sheila Bedi, a Northwestern University law associate professor and criminal justice reform advocate.
An even better change to the proposed policy involved eliminating the provision saying cops must use only the least amount of force needed. While this policy sounds great to laymen with no police training, it's the most dangerous proposal being seriously considered by departments.
It is impossible for an officer to know precisely what level of force is the least amount needed in any given situation. That's why officers are trained to respond with reasonable force, not the least force.
If officers were forced to use the least amount of force needed, then in order to ensure compliance with the old proposed policy, officers would likely have to wait to respond until after they were already actively under attack. And even at that point in time, they would have to try to evaluate what the least amount of force might be to stop the attack.
I don't know about you, but I don't see how it could be considered a good idea for an officer to wait until they have been shot before responding. Chicago Tribune's "police experts," however, would disagree.
In these reformers' ideal future, departments would be able to say to officers, "Your actions were consistent with the law, and by all means every action you took was completely reasonable considering the circumstances, but you could have potentially used a bit less force, so you're fired."
Regardless of how this policy turns out, we want our brothers and sisters who work the dangerous streets of Chicago to know that we support you and we will always have your six.