March 14, Chicago, IL
Back in 1924, the Chicago Police Department's rule book could fit in the palm of an officer's hand.It sounds like this update is long overdue. Let’s hope that it is a more readily accessible tool that can be effectively used by the police.
Now the rules are compiled in six ring binders -- a 16-inch stack of paper.
It's a mess," said Rachel Johnston, director of research and development.
For the first time in 40 years, a team of officers and civilian employees is busy cleaning it up.
The team is eliminating earlier versions of general orders that have been modified over the years and removing other nonessential things such as the annual explanation of daylight-saving time.
The goal is to reduce the stack of paper by about two-thirds.
"Instead of patching things together, we are starting over," said James Hickey of research and development.
The streamlined directives will go online this fall with a better index system. Officers and supervisors can search the revised department orders on computers at home or at the police station, Johnston said.
Some things in the 1924 rulebook have never changed over the years.
Police vacations always have been called "furloughs."
One district sergeant hailed the project, saying he refers to the department's general orders nearly every day to instruct his officers on how to do things properly.
His one suggestion: that the department liven up the writing a bit.
"You read these general orders. and your eyes start bleeding," he said.