Chicago Police unveil new use of force policy (VIDEO)

In a policy announced Wednesday, Chicago police officials placed an emphasis moving forward on the sanctity of life, de-escalation, and accountability.

The 42-page policy, the first change since 2002, is based on feedback from a series of community meetings and public comment periods and will be implemented later this year through an accelerated training program.

Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson called the department’s new use of force policy “a major step forward” and said it reflects best practices recognized at the national level.

“It is among the first examples of what I consider to be the vital partnership we need in our city where officers and residents work together to shape how we make our streets of Chicago safer,” Johnson said during a press conference.

Johnson said the policy places the sanctity of human life at its center and exceeds the use of force guidelines mandated by the state.

Among the tenets of the policy is a requirement to use de-escalation techniques where possible including using tactical positioning to put time and distance between an evolving situation to allow additional personnel and specialized units to arrive, and prohibiting such controversial tactics as choke holds or restraint techniques that constrict a subject’s airway.

Officers are prohibited from firing to protect property, firing warning shots, or from firing into crowds, moving vehicles or buildings. In a departure from past policy, those threatening suicide or self-harm will no longer be considered assailants. The use of force cannot be employed against those solely exercising First Amendment rights or as punishment or retaliation and all incidents must be documented.

Should one officer witness another violating the new policy, they are obligated to verbally intervene and report the incident to a supervisor.

The department hopes to deliver a four-hour class on the new guidelines to all officers by the fall, followed by a longer eight-hour scenario-based training in 2018.