Chicago police unveil long-awaited pedestrian chase policy

CHICAGO (AP) – Chicago police officers will no longer be allowed to chase people on foot simply because they run away or pursue minor offenses, the department said Tuesday, a year after the two-foot chase ended. More than a year later, officers fatally shot a 13-year-old boy and a 22-year-old man.

The new policy closely follows a draft policy created after those firings and gives the department something it never had: permanent rules on when officers can and cannot engage in activity that itself may endanger those they are pursuing and bystanders

“The safety of our community members and our officers remains at the core of this new foot chase policy,” Superintendent David Brown said in a statement announcing the policy, which will be implemented by the end of the summer. “We collaborated internally with our officials and externally with our residents to develop a policy in which we all have a stake.”

Under the policy, officers may pursue if they believe a person is committing or is about to commit a crime, class A misdemeanors such as domestic battery, or serious traffic offenses such as drunk driving and street running that may affect others. may run the risk of injury.

Officers will not be allowed to chase people on foot if they are suspected of minor offenses such as parking violations, driving on a suspended license or drinking alcohol in public. But they will still have discretion for those they determine are or are about to commit crimes that “post a clear threat to any person.”

Perhaps most importantly, the policy makes clear that the days of being chased by officers just because someone tries to avoid them are over.

“People may avoid contact with a member for a number of reasons other than engaging in criminal activity,” the policy states.

The names of 13-year-old Adam Toledo and 22-year-old Anthony Alvarez, who were armed while fleeing police in separate operations in March 2021, are not mentioned in the policy or the news release announcing the policy. But those discoveries – especially of Alvarez – cast a shadow on the policy.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot demanded that the department make an interim policy following the shootings, and the county’s top prosecutor strongly criticized police for Alvarez’s search. It also appears that the police department worked hard to put a stop to such foot chases.

Under the policy, Alvarez would apparently not have been allowed to chase for two major reasons. First, when police chased him for a traffic violation, they knew who he was and where he lived, Cook County State Attorney Kim Foxx told reporters in March when she announced that two shootings were taking place. The officers involved will not be charged. Second, officers are no longer allowed to pursue on foot those who are suspected of such a minor offense that led to the chase.

This policy covers a number of circumstances in which an officer must cease the pursuit, including a requirement that the pursuit must cease if a third party is injured and requires immediate medical attention that may be caused by someone else. cannot be provided by If officers find they don’t know where they are, which is possible in a chaotic situation in which they are running through streets and between houses, they should stop. And if they find themselves unable to communicate with other officers, whether they leave their radios on or for some other reason, they should stop.

The policy also makes a point of reminding officers that they or their supervisors will not be criticized or disciplined for making a decision to pursue a leg or to close one.

Officers are also forbidden from provoking a chase, such as by employing a tactic in which they speed toward a group of people in their squad’s cars, stop abruptly and “shut anyone in the fleeing group”. with the intention of stopping”.

The city has been waiting for a policy long before the shootings of Toledo and Alvarez.

Five years ago, the US Department of Justice issued a scathing report that said too much police chases in the city were unnecessary or that officers ended up shooting people they didn’t need to shoot. . And three years ago, a judge signed a consent decree requiring it to adopt a foot stalking policy.

There was also a great deal of evidence about pedestrian dangers in the city, including an investigation by the Chicago Tribune, which found that from 2010 to 2015, a third of the city’s police were injured in shootings or leg chases. Those killed were involved.

Police officials have denied any suggestion that they are dragging their feet, pointing out that the department has met the established deadline.

But Chicago hasn’t taken the lead on the issue, with other major cities such as Baltimore, Philadelphia and Portland, Oregon already implementing pedestrian chase policies.

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