State: Emanuel, police chief to adapt task force reforms

CHICAGO – The mayor of Chicago and the city’s police chief said Thursday nearly a third of the recommendations outlined by a panel last week will be implemented immediately to reform a police force under fire for racial bias and the use of excessive force.

The reforms are focused on restoring accountability in the department, rebuilding public trust and increasing transparency, according to a statement from Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office.

“As a city, we cannot rest until we fully address the systemic issues facing the Chicago Police Department,” Emanuel said in the statement. “The police department will implement these reforms immediately while we continue to work together to find additional ways to restore the fabric of trust in communities across Chicago.”

The reforms that will be implemented immediately include a better approach for holding officers accountable for wrongdoing, improving programs to help officers understand cultural differences, Taser-use training and expansion of a body-camera program, the statement said.

A representative from the Fraternal Order of Police, Chicago Lodge 7, which represents rank and file officers, was not immediately available to comment.

Plans are under way to address the rest of the recommendations from the task force’s report, which was issued last Wednesday.

The task force report concluded the Chicago Police Department is not doing enough to combat racial bias among officers or to protect the human and civil rights of residents.

Emanuel had created the task force after days of street protests that began last November, triggered by the release of a video showing the fatal shooting of a black teenager, Laquan McDonald, by a white police officer in 2014.

The task force described McDonald’s death as a “tipping point” and said community outrage had given voice to long-simmering anger over police actions that included physical and verbal abuse.

The use of lethal force by U.S. police, especially by white officers against unarmed African-Americans and other minorities, has been the focus of nationwide protests and has fueled a civil rights movement under the name ‘Black Lives Matter.’

Chicago will review further the overall structure of police accountability and will work with community leaders, ministers and parents to rebuild trust in communities, the statement from Emanuel’s office said.

Also last Wednesday, the city council unanimously approved Emanuel’s candidate Eddie Johnson to lead the police department facing a federal investigation.

–Reuters

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