Emanuel cuts vacation short, calls for review of CPD crisis training

Michelle Gallardo Image
Monday, December 28, 2015
EMBED <>More Videos

Mayor Rahm Emanuel cut his vacation in Cuba short Monday, one day after he issued new orders calling on the police to better respond to crisis calls.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Mayor Rahm Emanuel cut his vacation in Cuba short Monday, one day after he issued new orders following Chicago's latest deadly police shooting calling on the police department to better respond to crisis calls.

On Saturday officers responded to a 911 call from a home in the city's West Garfield Park neighborhood. Police said Quintonio Legrier, 19, was threatening his father with an aluminum bat.

Their downstairs neighbor, 55-year-old Bettie Jones, answered the door to let police in just as Legrier came running down the stairs.

Police opened fire and hit Jones by accident. Legrier was also shot and killed.

Four sisters are now grieving the loss of their mother, and still struggling to understand why she had to die at the hands of a police officer.

"I feel that this is murder, because for somebody to get shot for opening their door is crazy," says Latisha Jones, Bettie's daughter.

Latarsha Jones says Mayor Emanuel called the family Monday from Cuba to apologize.

"He was very respectful," Latarsha says. "We said a prayer. I guess that warmed my heart, we prayed together over it. He said when he was back in town he'd make sure to come by."

But apologies are not enough. The Jones family plans to sue the city. Their attorney says Jones' death is due to a lack of training on the part of Chicago police officers.

"In order to handle a domestic violence situation you need to understand what is happening in the processes," says Sam Adams Jr., the family's lawyer. "If this is a mentally ill person, how do you handle a mentally ill person versus a gangbanger versus somebody that's simply walking down the street. There is training that goes into that."

The city seems to agree. On Sunday, Emanuel ordered a complete review on crisis training protocol, especially when it comes to dealing with mental illness.

"This afternoon I directed the new Acting Chief Administrator of the Independent Police Review Authority and the Interim Superintendent of Police to meet with each other as soon as possible to review the Crisis Intervention team training, around how officers respond to mental health calls. I have asked that they determine the deficiencies in the current training, and determine what steps can be taken immediately to address them," he said, in part, in a statement.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness, the organization that partners with CPD to train officers, said only 16 percent of the department is certified. Only 1,800 of CPD's approximately 11,000 officers are CIT trained. While every district is supposed to have a CIT-trained team on every shift, that isn't always the case. And even when a CIT-trained team is available, 911 often doesn't know to dispatch them.

"Every watch, the districts are supposed to send over a list of officers and the officers that are trained, there is a Z code next to their name so that 911 knows who to dispatch," says Alexa James, executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness. "That is not happening and that isn't effective."

Interim Chicago Police Superintendent John Escalante said the department will review its crisis training protocol and how many officers are trained in it. Escalante met with the interim head of IPRA Monday to discuss implementing new policies and training.

The Jones family is determined to force the lax practices to change.

"We have to speak for her because if it was one of us, she would have been down here fighting, she would have fought for all of us. So now we have to fight. We have to fight for her rights," says her daughter Latonya Jones.

The mayor is due back in Chicago Tuesday morning. Quintonio LeGrier's family also filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city Monday afternoon.

Click here to read the LeGrier complaint.