The Chicago Police Department has unveiled a new policy prohibiting its officers from chasing people on foot just because they are running away or have committed minor offenses.
The policy, which was introduced on Tuesday, also urges police officers to “consider alternatives” to going after someone who is “visibly armed with a firearm.”
Under this policy, officers may initiate a prosecution if they believe a person is committing or about to commit a felony, a class A misdemeanor such as domestic battery, or a serious traffic violation that could result in injury to others, such as driving drunk or street racing. .
Perhaps most importantly, the new policy makes it clear that the days of officers giving chase just because someone is trying to get away from them are over.
“People may avoid contact with a participant for many reasons other than being involved in criminal activity,” the policy says.
The long-awaited ban on foot chases is expected to come into effect by the end of the summer, after the city’s 11,900 uniformed police officers have been trained.
The move comes more than a year after two foot chases ended with police fatally shooting Adam Toledo, 13, and Anthony Alvarez, 22, in separate incidents in March 2021.
Toledo and Alvarez, who were armed as they fled police in separate pursuits 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 his gun and raising his hands, while Alvarez was shot in the back while brandishing the gun.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot demanded that the department develop an interim policy in the wake of the March 2021 shooting, and the county’s chief attorney sharply criticized police for harassing Alvarez.
But back in April 2021, Lightfoot acknowledged that having cops ask permission from a superior before bringing anyone in to prosecute was not ideal.
“I don’t want dangerous people to think, ‘Well, if I just run, I’m safe.’ I can continue wreaking havoc,” the mayor said. We can’t live in this world either.
On Tuesday, Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown told reporters that police had been discussing the policy of harassment “years before the shooting happened.”
He said he expected 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 has made officers safer, made communities safer for over a decade,” he said at a press briefing.
The new policy includes a number of circumstances under which an officer must stop a pursuit, including a requirement that a pursuit must be abandoned if a third person is injured and needs immediate medical attention that no one else can provide.
If the officers find they don’t know exactly where they are, which is possible in a chaotic situation where they run through alleyways and between houses, they should stop. And if they find they can’t communicate with other officers because their walkie-talkies are falling out or for any other reason, they should stop.
It is also important in politics to remind officers that they or their superiors will not be criticized or punished for refusing or canceling prosecutions.
Officers are also prohibited from provoking a chase, such as using the tactic whereby they race their patrol cars towards a group of people, stop abruptly, and jump out “with the intention of stopping any of the group that is escaping”.
This policy came about after years of discussion about the dangers of foot chases.
Five years ago, the U.S. Department of Justice issued a scathing report that said too many police chases in the city were unnecessary or ended up with cops shooting people they didn’t need to shoot. And three years ago, a judge signed a consent order that included a requirement to adopt a policy of harassment.
A Chicago Tribune investigation found that in a third of the city’s police shootings from 2010 to 2015, someone was injured or killed while on foot.
Other major cities such as Baltimore, Philadelphia and Portland, Oregon have already implemented harassment policies.
With mail wires