Chicago Police Department leaders on Thursday unveiled a timeline for training officers on the department’s newly redesigned use-of-force policy.
By Oct. 15, when the new policy goes into effect, every sworn member of the department will have completed a four-hour “base course that introduces and familiarizes officers with the policy,” First Deputy Supt. Kevin Navarro said.
In 2018, officers will be required to take an eight-hour “scenario-based instruction that will give officers hands-on experience with the guidelines that they learned in the new policies,” he added.
The cornerstone of the policy, Navarro said, “is the sanctity of life.”
In 2019, officers will attend 24 hours of training; 32 hours will be required in 2020. In 2021, 40 hours of training will be mandatory for officers.
Aside from use of force, courses will focus on officers’ and civilians’ mental health, civil and human rights, pursuits of criminal suspects and court testimony, among other topics, according to the department.
Last January, in the final days of the Obama Administration, the Department of Justice announced it found violations of the U.S. Constitution and federal law by Chicago Police officers when it came to use of force and racial disparities; the department’s review of CPD also noted other systemic problems.
When the plans to change the policy were announced last May, leadership of the Fraternal Order of Police, the union representing rank-and-file officers, dismissed the DOJ’s findings but welcomed the chance to improve officer safety.
“We do not believe Chicago Police Officers engage in systemic excessive force, as the Department of Justice report alleges, and we are glad that Attorney General Jeff Sessions has called into question such conclusions,” FOP President Kevin Graham said in a statement. “Nevertheless, we are always willing to discuss new measures with the Superintendent that insure the safety of our officers and those of the public.”
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has been a vocal critic of consent decrees with police departments.
Navarro said officers who have already taken the four-hour training course have been largely receptive to it.
“We’ve received overwhelmingly positive feedback from our officers who have taken the four-hour course and that has reaffirmed the belief from Supt. [Eddie] Johnson, myself and the rest of the command staff that we must do a better job at training our officers,” he said.
CPD leadership acknowledged possible “constraints” in terms of staffing districts during the training sessions. Some training, though, will be given while officers are in the field.
“We’re going through a phase looking at how we’re going to [provide training] most efficiently without affecting the manpower on the streets,” Navarro said. “It’s going to take some time. We don’t have all the answers at this moment, but it is going to happen.”