Excessive Force and New Legislation to Create Police Accountability

Posted: December 4, 2015

Excessive force by a Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke resulted in the wrongful death of a Chicago teen, Laquan McDonald. Unfortunately, McDonald is not the only victim of excessive force, as is being claimed in recent reports regarding 25-year-old Ronald Johnson III, who was fatally shot by police during a foot chase in October 2014 and 17-year-old Cedric Chatman who was fatally shot by a police on January 7, 2013 after allegedly stealing a car.

A couple of years ago, attorney, Erin Calandriello, worked on a case involving a man, who was killed inside his vehicle after being wrongfully shot approximately 18 times by Chicago police, which resulted in a $4.5 million settlement.

The truth is that the rights of individuals are violated on a daily basis, and can result in serious bodily injury or death.

Now, a law which goes into effect on January 1, 2016, Public Act 99-0352, will expand the use of police body cameras (http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/publicacts/99/PDF/099-0352.pdf).

Two of the goals of the law, as is cited in it, is to not only provide impartial evidence and documentation to settle disputes and allegations of officer misconduct; but to also improve transparency and accountability, while strengthening public trust.

The law further paves the way for putting an onus on police officers to do their jobs ethically and responsibly by requiring them to: (1) undergo further training after police academy including training to better understand the communities that they police; (2) give individuals receipts for being stopped and frisked (the collection of this data will provide transparency about who is being subjected to this procedure); and (3) allow citizens to record police doing their jobs.

In light of the recent excessive force cases coming to the forefront of a national discussion, it will be interesting to see if the law’s expansion of body cameras being worn by officers will have a deterrent effect on reckless and excessive force by them.

In a September 2015 study published in the Journal of Experimental Criminology, entitled “The Impact of On-Officer Video Cameras on Police-Citizen Contacts: Findings from a Controlled Experiment in Mesa, AZ,” http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11292-015-9237-8, it found that police officers were more conscientious regarding their actions when they wore body cameras, made less arrests and conducted fewer stop-and-frisks. Will this law have the same effect on local law enforcement?

Your civil rights are important. If you feel that they have been violated by police misconduct, seek advice from an attorney so that you understand your options. If you or a loved one has been injured, contact the Law Offices of Martin Glink for a free consultation with one of our attorneys. We are here to listen and help.