After the Chicago Police Department changed the rules about how officers can and cannot use stun guns, they are now being sued because they did not consult the city’s police union. The new rule stops police officers from using stun guns on suspects who are either running away, visibly intoxicated or vulnerable to injury. The policy has been tightened after an August investigation found that the Chicago police department had become reliant on stun guns and used them a bit too liberally, according to the Chicago Tribune report.
Allegedly officers were misusing the weapon, so Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson overhauled the department’s policies. He introduced the new rules in May and then updated them in October. But as he was changing the way the officers could and could not use their stun guns, he forgot one crucial element of the process and failed to consult with the city’s police union.
The policy has been criticized as being too permissive. And the police union, which represents and advocates for the men and women who put their lives on the line day after day, said that the superintendent and the police department had no right to change the policy without their input.
And the union plans to use the law to challenge the police department. Because the union thinks the new stun gun policy protects the people in exchange for putting officers in danger, they plan to fight it every step of the way.
Now they have put in a complaint with the Illinois Labor Relations Board. The police union argues that the Chicago police department violated the union’s collective bargaining rights. Because they implemented this new stun gun policy without negotiating with the union, they believe the police department is in the wrong.
A Chicago University law professor, Craig Futterman, has filed a lawsuit against the police department. He claims the new policy does not go far enough to protect the citizens of the city. The professor argues that telling officers not to stun people in certain situations avoids the issue rather than dealing with it courageously head on.
“They still refuse to stop telling… officers that it’s OK to Taser people who pose no immediate threat to anyone,” Futterman said. “You need hard and fast rules on this.”
Taser is a stun gun brand manufactured by Axon, an Arizona-based company.
The reason this is an issue is that Tasers have been shown to have the capacity to kill. Because people have died as a result of being shocked with a Taser, Axon has lost cases in court.
Although the Chicago Police Department is facing a lot of criticism for their stun gun policy on both sides of the fence, a University of South Carolina criminal justice professor and use of force expert, Geoffrey Alpert, applauds the department’s move. But he said it would be useless unless they hire professionals to train the force.
Chicago has recently acquired more stun guns. Back in 2015, the department had about 745 stun guns, and now they have nearly 4,000.
Do you think police officers should be trained on how to properly use stun guns?