Embattled Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel cut his Cuban vacation short to announce reforms to the Chicago Police Department including deploying additional tasers to the force.
In a press conference in Chicago on Wednesday, Emanuel said, “We must ensure our that officers have the right tactics, the right training, the right technology to resolve tense situations safely and security. It is about helping them realize the multitude of responses that are available in tense situations.”
Emanuel announced that “any officer involved in shootings will be put on desk duty for 30 days so we can assess their fitness for duty. That’s a change from three days.”
Additionally, Emanuel said Chicago police will “double the number of tasers to 1400 while also providing officers in training to use them properly.” The mayor cited the black and Hispanic caucuses for “pushing for more tasers.”
He said it was his desire for the the Chicago PD to “create more time and distance in these situations and other encounters to make environments safe and safer for all. We will improve communication between officers and individuals to make these encounters less confrontational and more conversational.”
“With the right policies, the right procedures, and the right practices, we can change our officers perspectives to help them ensure their own safety and the safety of others,” Emanuel suggested. “We want to ensure our officers are not just operating in either first gear or fifth gear. But to recognize the degrees in between so they can respond to appropriately to each individual situation, where force can be the last option, not the first choice.”
Chicago has approximately 12,000 sworn officers, so with 1,400 total tasers in deployment, about 11.6 percent of all officers will have them, with roughly 20 percent of responding officers equipped, according to Chicago Police Department spokesman Anthony Guglielmi.
According to NBC Chicago, during the fatal police shooting of Laquan McDonald, officers on scene called for a taser. However, McDonald was shot before one was deployed.
Comparatively, the New York City Police Department has deployed 700 tasers, has 1,000 in inventory but announced in August that they were going to spend upwards of $4.5 million on additional tasers with the hopes of adding about 1,000 more to the inventory. The NYPD announced that only patrol sergeants and members of the elite Emergency Service Unit are qualified to use the stun guns. Total sworn officers of the NYPD number approximately 34,500 leaving about five percent of total officers equipped with tasers.
The Los Angeles Police Department announced in the beginning of 2015 plans to equip every officer within the department with a taser. Currently, the LAPD has 3,200 tasers. Total sworn officers for the LAPD number approximately 9,000 leading, which leaves about 35 percent of officers equipped with tasers.
TheDC has reached out to the Public Information Officers of both the LAPD and NYPD for updated figures on their respective departments’ deployment of the stun guns.