The American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois shares the sadness of Joshua Beal’s family and friends who have seen a young man with dreams and promise taken from their lives. And, we must acknowledge the context: the tragic death of a young man of color taking place in a part of Chicago known for racial division and tensions. Even as the City and Department of Justice work to address issues within the Chicago Police Department, we must find a way to tackle the racial divisions in our City.
Now our focus turns to the Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA). The City Council recently approved a new agency to conduct such investigations, but this case offers a test case for whether or not this process can be conducted in a fashion that builds public confidence across the City. We are watching for a thorough, complete and transparent investigation into this incident which already has reports of conflicting facts.
Finally, we hope that CPD will explore accelerated training around de-escalation. The public statements surrounding the shooting death of Mr. Beal suggest that others strategies might have been employed to abate the tensions, rather than escalate to the point of a shooting death. Other police departments have successfully integrated such training into their curriculum. Chicago police officers need and deserve these critical tools.
We have a long way to go to repair the breach of trust between the public and the police in the City of Chicago. Transparency and better training such as this is a small, but important first step. Our long term goal must be to prevent such incidents through better training for officers and the use of more techniques aimed at de-escalation.