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Police in Chicago released more than 100 videos from pending investigations on Friday — including footage of police shootings and incidents of brutality — as part of a new effort by the embattled department to remake its image and become more transparent.
The move, which saw a trove of videos, incident reports, and other police materials dumped in an online portal, is part of the department's new policy of making videos of officer-involved shootings publicly available within 60 days of most incidents.
It comes as Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel continues to fend off criticism about years of systemic misconduct by his police department, and more than six months after the fatal officer-involved shooting of black teen Laquan McDonald, which sparked massive public protests.
The videos have been uploaded to the Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA) site, which also allows users options to search for cases, file complaints online, or "compliment an officer." The IPRA is in charge of investigating police misconduct cases.
Some of the footage, which shows people being beaten or shot, has been labeled as "sensitive," and family members of those who appear in the videos, as well as the arresting officers, have been notified.
The video disclosures are part of a series of reforms that Emanuel has sought to implement in recent months since white officer Jason Van Dyke shot McDonald 16 times in the middle of the street. Van Dyke has been charged with murder. Some protesters called for Emanuel's resignation after video of the shooting surfaced, but the mayor said he has no intentions of stepping down and instead promised a "complete and total reform of the system."
As the calls for his resignation grew louder and amid a federal probe into the police department, Emanuel announced reform measures that included setting up a task force to review police accountability, appointing a new head of the agency that investigates police misconduct, and firing police chief Gerry McCarthy. The new police superintendent, Eddie Johnson, is black and has promised to confront racism in the department head-on.
In December, Emanuel also announced a department-wide shake-up of the city's police force, including plans to train all officers in communication and "de-escalation tactics" and double the number of cops carrying Tasers from 700 to 1,400.
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