The Chicago Police Department has unveiled a new policy that prohibits its officers from chasing people on foot simply because they run away or because they have committed minor offenses.
The policy, introduced on Tuesday, also encourages police officers to “consider alternatives” to prosecute someone who “is visibly armed with a firearm”.
According to the policy, officers can hunt down if they believe a person is committing or about to commit a crime, a class A crime such as domestic battery or a serious traffic offense that could risk injuring others, such as driving in intoxicated or street racing.
Perhaps most significantly, the new policy makes it clear that the days of officers hunting just because someone tries to get away from them are over.
“People can avoid contact with a member for many reasons other than involvement in criminal activity,” the policy states.
The long-awaited ban on foot pursuit is expected to take effect by the end of the summer after the city’s 11,900 uniformed police officers are trained.
The move comes more than a year after two foot chases ended with police shooting 13-year-old Adam Toledo and 22-year-old Anthony Alvarez to death in separate incidents in March 2021.
Toledo and Alvarez, who were armed when fleeing police in separate activities in March 2021, were not mentioned in the press release announcing the policy or the policy itself.
Toledo was shot in the chest after dropping a gun and raising his hands, and Alvarez was shot in the back while brandishing a gun.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot asked the department to create interim policy after the March 2021 shootings, and the county’s chief prosecutor harshly criticized police for pursuing Alvarez.
But in April 2021, Lightfoot acknowledged that having police officers ask a supervisor’s permission before engaging someone in a foot chase wasn’t ideal.
“I don’t want the people out there who are dangerous to think, ‘Well, if I run away, then I’m safe. I can continue to wreak havoc, ‘”the mayor said.” We can’t even live in that world. “
Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown told reporters Tuesday that police had been discussing a foot pursuit policy “for several years before those shootings took place.”
He said he expects the new rules to make officers and the public safer, as has happened in other cities that have adopted similar policies.
“The impact on crime has been studied (and) we can look back at what made officers safer, made communities safer for over a decade,” he said at a news conference.
The new policy includes a number of circumstances in which an agent must cancel a pursuit, including the requirement that the pursuit must end if a third party is injured and needs immediate medical attention that cannot be provided by anyone else.
If the agents realize they don’t know exactly where they are, which is possible in a chaotic situation where they run into alleys and between houses, they have to stop. And if they find themselves unable to communicate with other officers, either because they turn down the radios or for some other reason, they have to stop.
The policy also reminds officers that they or their supervisors will not be criticized or punished for choosing not to undertake a chase on foot or cancel one.
Officers are also forbidden to provoke chases, for example by adopting a tactic in which they whiz police cars towards a group of people, suddenly stop and jump out “with the intention of stopping anyone fleeing in the group.”
Politics comes after years of discussions about the danger of foot chase.
Five years ago, the United States Department of Justice issued a scathing report claiming that too many police chases in the city were unnecessary or resulted in officers shooting people who were not supposed to shoot. And three years ago, a judge signed a consent decree that included a requirement to adopt a foot pursuit policy.
A Chicago Tribune investigation found that one-third of city police shootings from 2010 to 2015 involved someone injured or killed in a foot chase.
Other large cities, such as Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Portland, Oregon have already implemented foot pursuit policies.
With postal wires