The Chicago Police Department released the final version of its new foot pursuit policy Tuesday, in the making for more than a year since Mayor Lori Lightfoot and activists called for such rules following the back-to-back fatal police shootings of two young men who were being chased by officers.
The final policy won’t officially go into effect until all officers have been trained on it, which will likely be in late summer, said Robert Boik, CPD’s executive director of constitutional reform and oversight. Changes to the new policy of the temporary policy include clearer guidelines for officers, enhanced oversight, and reviews of foot chases from the tactical review and evaluation division.
“Foot pursuit policies have been a part of law enforcement for more than a decade,” Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown said at a news conference. “The impact on crime has been studied, and we can look back at foot pursuit policies and see what has made officers safer, has made the community safer in cities that have had this for longer. of a decade”.
All officers will receive e-learning training on the new policy, and it will also be integrated into the department’s 40 hours of mandatory in-person training, according to police leaders.
At an unrelated news conference, Lightfoot said foot chases are among the most dangerous tasks officers perform and it’s important to correct the new policy so officers can safely pursue dangerous criminals.
“Fundamentally, this comes down to having a policy that makes sense. This has now been signed by the judge, the monitor, the attorney general. I think it’s a really solid plan,” Lightfoot said. “But really the devil will be in the details of training. We have to make sure that our officers understand what the rules of the road are and that we provide them with the proper training to protect themselves, protect the person they are chasing, and most importantly, protect the public.”
The policy also states that officers may only engage in a foot pursuit if “there is a valid law enforcement need to detain the person” that outweighs the dangers of the pursuit. Officers should also not initiate or stop a pursuit for various reasons, such as if the officer is injured or a third party is injured and requires immediate medical attention; if the officer does not know her current location; if the officer loses his radio or firearm; and more. The policy also states that if an officer is alone, he must not initiate or continue a pursuit.
Boik said the final policy includes roles for policing lieutenants to review pursuits when an arrest or use of force has occurred. The Tactical Review and Assessment Division, which has reviewed every use-of-force incident since its inception, will now review every foot pursuit. Officers will also be required to complete a form after participating in a foot chase, the goal of which is to improve data collection. Those forms are open for public comment and review.
Alexandra Block, supervising attorney for the ACLU of Illinois, said that while she is pleased that the Police Department has adopted two of her coalition’s suggested additions (the tactical review and record keeping), the department was not far enough in adopting the other coalition suggestions. .
“Our position is that the foot pursuit policy does not correct the many flaws in the temporary foot pursuit policy that we had before,” Block said. “It allows officers to conduct dangerous activities on foot, even if the officers have no legal basis to arrest the person they are pursuing.”
Block said he acknowledged that Brown emphasized the part of the policy that requires reasonable and articulable suspicion to pursue a foot pursuit, but noted that it still falls short of the standard for arresting someone, which is probable cause.
“The policy also doesn’t really limit foot chases to the most serious alleged crimes,” he said. “Foot chases are so dangerous to members of the public, the person being pursued and the officer that they should be limited to the most serious crimes.”
Block said the Police Department also did a poor job of communicating with those who gave tips and didn’t explain why it adopted some tips over others.
According to a department spokesperson, CPD solicited community input throughout the policy development process. A public webinar, two community conversations, and multiple dedicated discussions were held.
The first draft of the policy was released in May 2021, about 2 months after 13-year-old Adam Toledo and 22-year-old Anthony Alvarez were shot and killed in separate incidents by officers pursuing them on foot.
Officers have been following that temporary policy ever since, but the department previously operated without a policy, which was a major point in a lawsuit filed on behalf of Alvarez’s family in February.
At Tuesday’s news conference, Brown said the department had long discussed a policy before the Toledo and Alvarez shootings, noting that the department had a training bulletin on foot chases.
“I would say we should have gone and put a policy in when we put out that training bulletin. But again, before those incidents occurred, we had the consent decree in place,” Brown said. “And we had more discussions about the focus group policies and a lot of work done by Executive Director Boik and his staff. As you know, we put in a temporary policy and now we finally have our permanent policy.”
It was unclear whether the new policy might have affected officers’ decisions to go after Toledo and Álvarez. The officer who ran down a Little Village alley after Toledo was mostly alone when he did. Both Toledo and Alvarez, who was shot in a backyard after trying to escape from an officer, held guns at points during their pursuits.
Chicago Tribune reporter Gregory Pratt contributed.