Chicago politicians believe there’s momentum for broad policing reform, but say it has to go deeper than more stun guns or extra training.
Speaking alongside other elected officials from Chicago’s West Side, Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin said he supports Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s latest police changes, including providing additional Tasers and increasing crisis-intervention training.
What’s really needed, according to Boykin, is for police officers to better understand and respect African-Americans.
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“African-Americans sometimes speak loudly. It doesn’t mean that we’re angry with one another, sometimes people are just loud,” Boykin said. “But if you’re not used to that, then you might say ‘Well these guys are getting ready to fight, I better pull out my gun and try to stop them.’”
Boykin believes if stun guns had been in every squad car patrolling at night, as Emanuel has said they now will be, then the shooting death of Laquan McDonald, and the more recent deaths of Quintonio LeGrier and Bettie Jones, could have been avoided.
None of the politicians present called on Emanuel to resign, which has been the demand from the many protests organized around the city in recent weeks. They’re also not asking protesters to stop marching.
“You don’t tell them anything. You let them continue to protest,” said Chicago Alderman Emma Mitts. “Their job is to do what they feel they need to do, as long as it’s a peaceful protest, but as legislators, our job is to make change in the direction where it can be effective.”
The politicians met with interim Chicago police superintendent John Escalante Wednesday, and said he was receptive to their concerns.