Police Abuse

Chicago Police Union Trying To Stop New Use-of-Force Policies

A new policy calls on cops to avoid using stun guns on people who are fleeing or may otherwise be susceptible to injury.


Poster Boy NYC/flickr

The Chicago police union has filed a complaint with the Illinois Labor Relations Board, insisting that new use-of-force rules instituted by the police department should have been negotiated with the union.

New rules governing the use of stun guns were announced months after a broader set of use-of-force rules changes in May, and only after a Chicago Tribune exposé on the use of stun guns that pointed out the new rules did not prohibit cops from stunning fleeing individuals who posed no other threat.

The newest revision still doesn't ban the practice outright, instead calling on police officers to "avoid" using stun guns on individuals who are fleeing or intoxicated or could otherwise be prone to injury.

It's all still too much for the police union, which is worried the new rules open up its members to disciplinary action.

As Scott Shackford noted earlier today, "the circumstances by which the police are allowed to unleash violence on citizens should not be something subjected to collective bargaining."

Chicago police have amassed quite a stockpile of stun guns. They had 745 in 2015 and have about 4,000 now. According to a department spokesperson, there are enough stun guns to ensure every cop responding to a call can have one. Nevertheless, the department wants to buy 3,000 more.

The Tribune investigation found Chicago police used stun guns at least 4,700 times in the last decade, or more than once a day, primarily on African-Americans, and with little oversight.

The police union, and the collective bargaining privileges granted it by state laws, are a large part of the reason for the lack of substantive oversight and transparency in Chicago policing.

The way the union fights even modest reforms tooth and nail ought to illustrate the pressing need for states like Illinois to review and limit the privileges they grant public unions, particularly the ones representing government employees with the power of life and death over the people they serve.