The Chicago Police Department will roll out its revised foot chase policy on Friday, severely restricting officers from engaging in any foot pursuits unless there is “probable cause for an arrest” or officers believe a crime has been committed — but community activists say the new policy does not go far enough.
The policy, which the Daily Wire reported on in May, takes effect on Friday, severely restricts CPD foot chases, listing pursuits as “appropriate only when there is probable cause for an arrest or it is believed an individual has committed, is committing or is about to commit a crime.” Officers can no longer pursue potential suspects from “minor traffic offenses” or other “class A misdemeanors” “unless the person poses an obvious threat to the community or any person.”
USA Today reported Friday that CPD officers “are directed to discontinue foot pursuits if someone is injured and requires immediate medical assistance, if officers are unaware of their location, if officers engaged in the pursuit believe they would not be able to control the suspect if a confrontation were to occur, and ‘if the need to apprehend the subject is not worth the risk to responding officers, the public or the subject.'”
The new policy is in response to a pair of high-profile officer-involved shootings, including that of 13-year-old Adam Toldeo, who was shot by a CPD officer following a foot pursuit. Body camera footage, released after the incident, revealed that Toldeo, who was armed during the pursuit, dropped his weapon just before turning to face officers with his hands up, but is not clear how officers viewed Toledo’s actions at the moment.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who is facing down a dramatic rise in violent crime in the city, claimed, in a speech Friday, that reforming the Chicago Police Department’s foot pursuit policy was a top priority for the city’s law enforcement apparatus.
“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,” Lightfoot said. “The important parameters outlined in this policy will not only protect our officers, the public and potential suspects during foot pursuits, but it also serves as a step forward in our mission to modernize and reform our police department,”
Activists, though, fired back at the mayor and claimed that the new policy does not go far enough in restricting officers.
“It does not make clear that foot pursuits are inherently dangerous and deadly. It does not put enough constraints on officer discretion,” Nusrat Choudhury, legal director for ACLU Illinois told Block Club Chicago. “It is vague and self-contradictory in places. And it does not require that every single foot pursuit be documented in a report with the reasons justifying that pursuit that can be reviewed by a supervisor so that we can actually rein in this dangerous practice.”
“It allows officers to chase down and use force against people who’ve committed incredibly minor offenses and allows officers to rely on their discretion. And it fails to control for the fact that pursuit is a tactic where adrenaline is running high, and we know from the data that officers are proportionally using lethal force and remedies for that problem are just not in that policy,” she added.
According to the Chicago Tribune, the city is facing its worst homicide rate in decades. So far this year, more than 1300 people have been shot and wounded, and nearly 300 people have been shot and killed. Last weekend alone, 55 people were shot, 5 fatally, in incidents of violence across the city.
The New York Times reported last week that the city is bracing for a “violent summer.”
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