Chicago police officers are no longer allowed to chase suspects on foot if they are just running away or have committed minor offenses, law enforcement officials said Tuesday.
The announcement comes after two foot chases in March 2021 resulted in police fatally shooting 13-year-old Adam Toledo and 22-year-old Anthony Alvarez. After the shootings, the Chicago Police Department announced a temporary policy that would limit the circumstances in which police could pursue a suspect.
The new policy closely resembles the temporary move, but it offers clearer rules for police. Officers are now allowed to chase a suspect only if the officer determines that the individual is about to commit a felony, a class A misdemeanor or a serious traffic offense that could seriously injure others.
That means that cops are no longer able to chase someone just for avoiding them or running away. The policy also states that officers cannot pursue those they suspect of committing a minor offense, such as public intoxication, driving with a suspended license or parking illegally.
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“A department member may not conduct a foot pursuit based solely on a person’s response to the presence of police, including a person’s attempt to avoid contact with a department member,” the policy states.
The policy also lays out a number of circumstances in which an officer is required to stop the pursuit. If they notice that someone is in need of medical attention, if they are unaware of their current location, or if they lose communication with other officers, they must call off the chase.
Police also are prohibited from provoking a foot chase.
“For example, a department member may not drive at a high rate of speed toward a group congregated on a corner, perform a threshold brake, and exit quickly with the intention of stopping anyone in the group who flees,” the new policy reads.
The new policy comes after years of intense criticism of Chicago’s policies on police foot pursuits. In 2016, a Chicago Tribune investigation found that one-third of police shootings in the first part of the decade started as foot chases. The shootings occurred mostly after police attempted to stop and question people for minor offenses, which the new policy attempts to remedy.
“The safety of our community members and our officers remain at the core of this new foot pursuit policy,” Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown said in a statement.
Mr. Brown said the new foot pursuit policy will be rolled out throughout the summer as police receive the necessary training.