Rahm Emanuel Promises Changes To Chicago Police

by Melissah Yang

The Chicago Police Department is already under federal investigation for its use of force, and now Mayor Rahm Emanuel promises changes to Chicago police training after two more black people died during an officer-involved shooting over the holiday weekend. On Sunday night, Rahm specifically asked for a re-evaluation of how police respond to mental health crises calls. According to NBC Chicago, Quintonio LeGrier, who died early Saturday morning after being fatally shot by police, reportedly suffered from a mental illness, but his mother Janet Cooksey told the outlet her 19-year-old son was not violent.

In his second statement regarding the incident, Emanuel said he asked for the acting chief administrator of the Independent Police Review Authority, which is investigating the deaths of LeGrier and 55-year-old Bettie Jones, to meet with John Escalante, the interim Superintendent of Police who was named to his post just earlier this month, to assess the training of the Crisis Intervention Team. "While their investigation is underway, we must also make real changes within our police department today and it is clear changes are needed to how officers respond to mental health crises," Emanuel said. Jones, who lived below LeGrier's father, was already named an accidental death by authorities after she was shot reportedly opening the door for police.

Emanuel and the Chicago Police Department is already under fire for its practices. The U.S. Justice Department opened an investigation into Chicago police's use of force after the release of dash cam footage that showed 17-year-old Laquan McDonald fatally shot 16 times. Demonstrators marched through Chicago's streets this month to protest police brutality and call for Emanuel's resignation. Though insisting he will not step down, Emanuel publicly apologized for McDonald's death and vowed to fully reform Chicago's police force. Emanuel had previously denied Chicago's police force had systemic problems from the top down.

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The deaths of LeGrier and Jones are another reminder that despite Emanuel's promises, many steps and adjustments must be made before Chicagoans have full faith in a police department that should serve to protect its citizens.

"The changes we have made in recent weeks are just a beginning — not an end," Emanuel said in a statement. "We will continue to ask tough questions of the police department, of the investigative agencies, and of ourselves, to drive the reforms the people of Chicago deserve and expect."