CHICAGO (AP) — The Chicago Police Department launched mandatory training designed to help officers de-escalate conflicts, including situations involving the use of force and mental health issues.
The program, which Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson is scheduled to discuss Monday evening, is among several department reforms following the shooting death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald. The black teenager was shot 16 times in 2014 by a white Chicago police officer. Graphic squad-car video of the shooting was released last year, prompting citywide protests, police leadership changes and a U.S. Department of Justice investigation.
The training at the Chicago Police Academy, which is in its second week, was developed with a panel of national policing and mental health experts. It uses live scenarios and exercises to help officers better assess how to respond to complex and tense situations. Some of the tactics include using slower and calmer approaches when possible.
All 12,500 sworn officers will undergo the training in roughly a year, according to The Chicago Tribune.
“When we can reduce the risk of taking a life even if it’s a bad guy, we should,” head instructor Sgt. Larry Snelling recently told a group of trainees, according to the Tribune. “But when you are faced with an immediate threat and your life or someone else’s life is on the line . you should respond with deadly force. You have to.”
Roughly 200 officers have gone through the two-day training, which also includes drills to test their reactions and judgment.
Over the weekend, the police department announced that it’ll expand the use of body cameras to include all officers on patrol by 2018, which follows a 2015 pilot program with the cameras.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has also pitched a new system to investigate police-involved shootings, officer complaints and department practices, which City Council members are considering. Emanuel is expected to deliver a Thursday speech on crime and policing.
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