May 27, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Chicago police unveil guidelines for foot-chases following fatal pursuits

Carolyn Ruff, with Black Lives Matter Women of Faith, brings awareness to the police killing of 13-year-old Adam Toledo during a protest.

Photo: Max Herman/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The Chicago Police Department this week announced a new policy barring officers from engaging in foot-chases with people suspected of minor offenses or low-level misdemeanors.

Why it matters: The revised policy comes in the wake of foot pursuits that resulted in the fatal officer-involved shootings of 13-year-old Adam Toledo and 22-year-old Anthony Alvarez.

  • The fresh guidance, revealed Wednesday, marks the first time the city of Chicago has provided clear-cut directives to officers for chasing suspects on foot.

Details: The policy bans foot pursuits for minor traffic violations and forbids officers from separating from their partners if they don't have a view of the person they're chasing.

A chase must end if:

  • An officer loses track of their location or surroundings;
  • There is too much distance or too many obstacles between the officer and the person they are chasing;
  • They cannot control the subject of the chase in a confrontation.

"Department members are required to balance the risk of engaging in a pursuit with the need to apprehend the subject," the guidance states.

  • "Officers will not intentionally provoke flight to justify a pursuit."
  • Officers are also required to wear body-cameras for all foot pursuits.

What they're saying: “This [will] give officers an opportunity, maybe to slow things down and have a better outcome when they’re trying to capture suspects,” Superintendent David Brown said, per WBEZ Chicago.

  • "Because foot pursuits are one of the most dangerous actions that police officers can engage in, we cannot afford to wait any longer to put a policy in place that regulates them," Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said in a statement announcing the policy.

What to watch: The policy is set to go into effect on a temporary basis beginning June 11. The public will be able to provide feedback before the guidance becomes permanent in September.

Go deeper: Latino community of 13-year-old killed by police in Chicago reels after shooting

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