Yesterday, prosecutors announced that Chicago Police Officer Robert Rialmo will not be charged with the tragic shooting deaths of Quintonio LeGrier and Bettie Jones. The following can be attributed to Karen Sheley, Police Practices Project Director of the ACLU of Illinois:
The shooting deaths of Mr. LeGrier and Ms. Jones show the need for better training and oversight when the Chicago Police Department responds to people in crisis. The recently-released U.S. Department of Justice report exposed the CPD’s broken crisis response system. In this case, for example, we know that the 911 dispatcher did not identify the call as one involving someone in crisis and did not dispatch an officer trained in crisis intervention. The officers who arrived on the scene did not use crisis intervention techniques and made tactical errors resulting in a shooting of Jones, who simply opened her door.
The DOJ report made clear that this is not an isolated incident, pointing out several continuing deficiencies in CPD’s crisis intervention program: it is understaffed; the CPD does not screen volunteers for the program; the CPD does not collect data on the number of CIT calls in order to appropriately staff districts with enough CIT officers; CPD does not evaluate crisis incidents or officers working on CIT calls.
Sadly, yesterday, as this decision was announced in the LeGrier and Jones’ deaths, a Chicago Police officer shot and killed a woman with a knife who, from early reports, was having a mental health crisis. The CPD has confirmed that the emergency call was not identified as one for the Crisis Intervention Team.
While details are still emerging in this latest police shooting, one thing is clear. The CPD must enter into a federally enforced consent decree to assist it in enacting the long overdue reform. The DOJ has identified these problems and the CPD owes it to the citizens it serves – and particularly populations with higher risks for bad police outcomes, like people with mental illness – to implement the reforms the DOJ has outlined.