CHICAGO, IL – This week, a new foot pursuit policy was released for the Chicago Police Department, essentially banning police foot pursuits for many “minor offenses” and for a suspect simply running away.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said that the policy will likely be officially adopted by the end of summer when officers are able to be fully trained. She said that officers will receive e-training as well as in-person training as a part of the department’s 40 hours of mandatory training per year.
The policy states that the only time an officer can chase a person on foot is when there “is a valid law enforcement need to detain the person,” and the need must be greater than the risk of the pursuit.
As the New York Post reported, “The policy, which was introduced Tuesday, also encourages cops to ‘consider alternatives’ to pursuing someone who ‘is visibly armed with a firearm.’ Under the policy, officers may give chase if they believe a person is committing or is about to commit a felony, a Class A misdemeanor such as domestic battery, or a serious traffic offense that could risk injuring others, such as drunken driving or street racing.”
An officer may not start or continue a chase if they’re alone, and they must stop it for several other reasons such as the officer becoming injured, a third party is injured and requires immediate medical aid, the officer doesn’t know their current location, the officer loses his or her radio or firearm, and consider whether there’s a better way to apprehend the suspect or if the suspect could be apprehended at a later time.
Lightfoot announced the policy as if she meant it to protect officers. She said in a press conference, “Fundamentally, what this comes down to is having a policy that makes sense. This has now been signed off on by the judge, the monitor, the attorney general. I think it’s a really solid plan. But really the devil is going to be in the details of the training. We’ve got to make sure our officers understand what the rules of the road are and that we’re providing them with proper training to protect themselves, protect the person they’re pursuing, and importantly, to protect the public.”
Further, Chicago police Superintendent David Brown spoke at a news conference, saying, “Foot-pursuit policies have been part of law enforcement for over a decade now. The impact on crime has been studied, and we can look back on foot-pursuit policies and see that it has made officers safer, it’s made the community safer in cities that have had this for over a decade.”
Of course, the ACLU does not believe the policy goes far enough. Alexandra Block, supervising attorney at ACLU of Illinois, said, “Our position is that the foot pursuit policy does not correct the many flaws in the temporary foot pursuit policy that we had before. It allows officers to pursue dangerous foot pursuits even if the officers have no legal basis to arrest the person they’re chasing.
“The policy also doesn’t really limit foot pursuits to the most serious suspected crimes. Foot pursuits are so dangerous to members of the public, the person being chased and the officer that they should be limited to the most serious crimes.”
In May of 2021, officers were introduced to a draft policy, which they’ve been following since that time. The draft policy was 10 pages long and largely in response to the separate incident fatal shootings of 13-year-old Adam Toledo and 22-year-old Anthony Alvarez.
At that time, CPD’s executive director of constitutional policing and reform, Robert Boik, said, “Focusing on professionalization, it means that our officers are asking certain questions before they act. And again, sometimes, that process happens in an instant. But that’s where training comes in… I think this was new for officers to think about. … This is a new concept we are getting comfortable with.”