Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced Dec. 30 the number of police officers carrying tasers will double to 1,400, following the shooting deaths of a 19-year-old college student and a 55-year-old neighbor, involving police.
The mayor said he was making the announcement as part of a major overhaul to the Chicago police force, after a series of fatal police shootings in the area.
“With the right policies, the right procedures and the right practices, we can change our officers’ perspectives, to help them ensure their own safety, and the safety of others,” Emanuel stated.
Mayor Emanuel, and interim police superintendent John Escalante, also said officers involved in a shooting would now be put on administrative leave for 30 days instead of three, and officers will be placing an additional emphasis on de-escalation techniques.
“Our goal is to change the way officers think when they approach an incident,” Escalante stated. “That might include calling other officers to the scene.”
Emanuel ended a family vacation early in order to make the announcement, after teenager Quintonio LeGrier was shot and killed by officers who responded to a domestic disturbance call last weekend.
Officers said LeGrier’s neighbor, Betty Jones, was accidentally caught in the crossfire during the incident.
“There’s a problem that has to be addressed,” Emanuel stated.
Last month prosecutors charged an officer with first-degree murder in the shooting death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, and the city’s police department has currently been under federal investigation for its overuse of deadly force.
“Force should be the last option, and not the first choice,” the mayor stated.
According to a statement from Emanuel’s office, each officer who “responds to calls for service” will now begin to be equipped with a taser, and trained to use it by June 1, 2016.