Police Accountability and Civil Rights Groups Raise Major Objections to CPD’s Latest Use of Force Policy


Contact:               Timna Axel
                             P: 312-888-4194 | E: taxel@clccrul.org
For immediate release
March 16, 2017
CHICAGO – Civil rights advocates and government watchdog groups belonging to the Police Accountability Collaborative today submitted comments on the Chicago Police Department’s latest version of its use of force policy.

The comments -- signed by the Law Office of the Cook County Public Defender, ACLU of Illinois, Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights, Chicago Justice Project, Chicago Council of Lawyers, Chicago Urban League, Community Renewal Society, and Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law -- cite deep concerns about the removal and dilution of important provisions in the policy which could exacerbate the systemic public safety failures identified by recent federal and local investigators.

Specifically, the civil rights groups urge the Chicago Police Department (CPD) to amend its policy by:

  • Clarifying that de-escalation is an integral part of effective police practices and a reflection of the sanctity of human life
  • Improving the medical aid provisions to require that officers offer medical assistance to the best of their training
  • Reinstating the provision on public reporting requirements for use of force data
  • Reinstating the ethics and professionalism requirements
  • Clarifying that deadly force is only justified when officers encounter immediate threats
  • Requiring officers to identify themselves as police when practicable
  • Reinstating the broader duty to intervene if an officer sees an improper use of force
  • Clarifying that use of force is never permitted in response to lawful free speech

The Chicago Police Department (CPD) first released a proposed use of force policy in October and invited public comment. Last week, CPD published its revised draft which was shortened to four pages and omitted many of the recommendations made by both the Police Accountability Task Force and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). That DOJ investigation concluded this January that “CPD uses unnecessary and unreasonable force in violation of the Constitution with frequency, and that unconstitutional force has historically been tolerated by CPD.”

Cook County Public Defender Amy P. Campanelli said:

“The proposed policy issued March 3, 2017 is inferior to the October 2016 draft. The new order no longer recognizes the importance of de-escalation and does not require officers to use the least force possible. Both those requirements of the October draft are essential to improve police dealings with the citizens of Chicago. Further, officers should identify themselves as police whenever possible. That requirement should also be reinstated as it could save lives.”

Bonnie Allen, Executive Director at Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights, said:

“This city is at a crossroads. On the one hand the public knows well that there is a pattern of misconduct and a systemic lack of accountability in our police force. On the other, we no longer expect help to come from the new Attorney General and his DOJ. The Police Department has an obligation to step forward in this crisis. Instead, this new language stirs only more uncertainty and mistrust among our communities.”