Supt. Johnson touts new use of force policy, CPD reforms

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson is confident his department is on the road to reform. Since the release of the Laquan McDonald tape two years ago and a scathing Department of Justice report, changes have included equipping officers with body cameras, Tasers and de-escalation training. Johnson said more reforms are on the way for the rest of 2018.

"This year, we will ensure that every officer in the department receives force mitigation training which is the heart of our new use of force policy," said Supt. Johnson.

In addition, Johnson said CPD plans to launch a Force Review Unit, where leadership will review use of force cases immediately to determine if tactics and training need to improve. Johnson said many of this year's new reforms center around mental health, not only giving officers better training in dealing with calls of people suffering from mental illness, but also helping officers who need help.

"The military and law enforcement are two professions that historically looked upon as macho professions, it wasn't a cool thing if you needed help to so seek it, so now, we are normalizing it," Johnson said.

Johnson said instead of having the one officer involved in a traumatic incident go get help, the department makes all the officers involved get help.

It is a welcome change for Alexa James. Her organization, the National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI) is helping CPD train officers.

"We are encouraged the training is being taken seriously and we are even more encouraged officers are signing up to take the training," said Alexa James, Executive Director of NAMI Chicago.

Despite the all the reforms CPD has put in place during the past couple years, the ACLU and others say real reform won't happen until there is a consent decree with federal oversight.

"Having goals now is appropriate, but we're not going to have confidence it's actually working until an independent body is overseeing the police department," said Karen Sheley with the ACLU.

The ACLU and other organizations filed lawsuits calling for an independent monitor to oversee police reforms. Legal action has been put on hold while the city of Chicago and the Illinois Attorney General's office work on a consent decree which is likely be filed with the court this summer.
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