In the wake of growing controversy surrounding the questionable policing tactics of the Chicago Police Department, Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced on Wednesday plans to overhaul the city's lethal force policy. "The policy changes center around de-escalation tactics to reduce the intensity of a conflict or a potentially violent situation at the earliest possible moment, emphasizing that the foremost goal is to protect the safety of all involved," Emanuel said in a statement obtained by USA Today.
By June of next year, all officers "on the beat" will be armed with a Taser after completing necessary training. The move comes after months of turmoil in the city following the fatal police shootings of Laquan McDonald, Ronald Johnson, Quintonio LeGrier, and Bettie Jones. Jason Van Dyke, the officer who shot 17-year-old McDonald 16 times, was charged with first-degree murder earlier this month.
Though Emanuel's delayed call for police reform is hopefully indicative of eventual steps in the right direction, he has not escaped controversy of his own. Surrounding the department's handling of footage of McDonald's death, including multiple cries of a possible cover-up, many activists and civil rights leaders have repeatedly called on Emanuel to step down as mayor so that Chicago can move forward with a fresh approach to combating the dire issue of the city's clearly flawed policing tactics. As previously reported, the Department of Justice is currently investigating the department's practices.