We collected feedback and submitted it directly to the Chicago Police Department on shootings, Tasers, pepper spray, and more.

(City Bureau)

Throughout October/November 2016, City Bureau and the Invisible Institute’s new interactive Use of Force Tracker tool gave the public an inside look at how the Chicago Police Department might change its Use of Force policy, or, rules on when police can inflict harm upon civilians.

This was the first time the CPD opened up a draft review process to public comment. Until then, our #UOFtracker is here to break down the legal—at times obscure—text to offer a view of how Use of Force Guidelines have affected the lives of Chicago residents in the past, and how you can impact the police department draft going forward.

As part of our civic journalism work—which includes a reporting fellowship, a #PublicNewsroom and our Documenters programwe use Genius to demystify some heavy material. The 10 annotations below were written and chosen by City Bureau Documenters to help the public understand what’s at stake.

Take a look—leave your own annotation. On November 19, we’ll submit all annotations left on the #UOFtracker to the CPD’s public comment system.

For a complete list of annotations, a side-by-side comparison of the old and new Use of Force guidelines and our source material, see the Use of Force Tracker here.


1. Sanctity of Human Life:

The directive: “The Department’s highest priority is the sanctity of human life. In all aspects of their conduct, Department members will act with the foremost regard for the preservation of human life and the safety of all persons involved.”

Our notes: http://genius.com/10707147

2. Deadly Force Investigations:

The directive: “Deadly force incidents involving a Department member that result in a member of the public sustaining fatal or life-threatening injuries will be investigated consistent with the Department directive entitled “Officer-Involved Death Investigations.”

Our notes: http://genius.com/10707496

3. Emergency Medical Services After the Use of Force:

The directive :“Consistent with the Department’s commitment to the sanctity of life, after any use of force incident involving injury to Department members, bystanders, or subjects, Department members will immediately: comport themselves in a manner that conveys the gravity of any use of force and the Department members’ concern for the sanctity of life of all persons injured or in need of EMS.”

Our notes: http://genius.com/10707662

4. Police Policing Themselves:

The directive :“Duty to Intervene and Report. All Department members are obligated to ensure compliance by themselves and other members with Department regulations, policies, and the law. …Any Department member observing the use of force in violation of this directive will be responsible for intervening on the subject’s behalf. Appropriate actions may include, but are not limited to, verbal or physical intervention, immediate notification to a supervisor, or a direct order by a supervisor to cease the use of excessive force.”

Our notes: http://genius.com/10707686

(William Camargo/City Bureau)

5. What is ‘Objectively Reasonable’ Force:

The directive: “This directive…continues the concept of Force Mitigation as a component of the Department’s response to all incidents.”

Our notes: http://genius.com/10707833

6. Role of Chicago Police Investigation Agency:

The directive: “IPRA will be responsible for the administrative investigation of firearm-discharge incidents involving sworn members.”

Our notes: http://genius.com/10709647

7. 30-day Administrative Leave Following Firearm Discharge:

The directive: “Department members who have discharged a firearm as described in Item V of this directive and have completed the Traumatic Incident Stress Management Program will be placed in a mandatory administrative duty assignment for a minimum period of thirty days within the Department member’s unit of assignment.”

Our notes: http://genius.com/10709702

8. Firearm Discharge Protocol:

The directive: “This directive outlines the protocol for maintaining, carrying, and discharging a member’s Taser device.”

Our notes: http://genius.com/10709958

9. Taser Discharge:

The directive: “Post Discharge. After an initial discharge of a Taser, Department members will: …reasonably justify each separate deployment of energy from a Taser as a separate use of force that officers will document.”

Our notes: http://genius.com/10710129

10. Taser Training:

The directive: “Tasers will be carried, handled, tested, and deployed only by members who have completed Department-conducted training on their safe handling and deployment.”

Our notes: http://genius.com/10710409