Chicago police to expand Taser use, additional training

By Amy R. Connolly  |  Dec. 31, 2015 at 6:27 AM
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CHICAGO, Dec. 31 (UPI) -- Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel rolled out changes in police training and procedures to make tense situations "less confrontational and more conversational," including arming officers with Tasers.

Emanuel and Interim Police Superintendent John Escalante on Wednesday announced plans that focus on "de-escalation tactics" in an effort to reduce the intensity of potentially deadly encounters.

"It's about helping them realize the multitude of responses that are available in a tense situation," Emanuel said of police officers. "There's a difference between when someone can use a gun and when someone should use a gun."

The department has used Tasers, which pack an intense electric jolt, for about a decade. Currently, the department has about 700 devices and one in five Chicago Police officers trained to use them. The goal is to make sure about 40 percent of officers are certified with 1,400 available for use department wide, Escalante said.

Emanuel is facing mounting pressure and calls for his resignation since dashcam video showed Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke shooting Laquan McDonald 16 times, some in the back. Van Dyke pleaded not guilty Tuesday to a first-degree murder charge in the 2014 shooting.

Saturday, an officer fatally shot a 19-year-old man and a 55-year-old woman, described as an innocent bystander. Police have acknowledged the woman's death was "accidental."

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