Chicago Police Unveil Long-Awaited Foot Pursuit Policy: NPR

In this May 1, 2021 photo, Ailani Alvarez, 2, the daughter of Anthony Alvarez, who was shot by police, holds a sign reading “I miss my dad” during a protest in Chicago.

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In this May 1, 2021 photo, Ailani Alvarez, 2, the daughter of Anthony Alvarez, who was shot by police, holds a sign reading “I miss my dad” during a protest in Chicago.

Shafkat Anowar/AP

CHICAGO — Chicago police officers will no longer be allowed to chase people on foot simply because they got away or committed minor crimes, the department said Tuesday, more than a year after two-foot chases ended with officers fatally shooting to a 13-year-old boy. -22-year-old boy and 22-year-old man.

The new policy closely adheres to a draft policy put in place after those shootings and gives the department something it has never had: permanent rules about when officers can and cannot engage in activity that may endanger themselves, to those whom they persecute and bystanders

Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown said he hopes the new policy will make officers and the public safer, as it has in other cities with similar policies.

“The impact on crime has been studied (and) we can look back at what has made officers safer, has made communities safer for over a decade,” he told reporters at a briefing. press release on the policy, which he hopes will be in force. by the end of the summer after all officers have received training.

Under the policy, officers may pursue you if they believe a person is committing or about to commit a felony, a Class A misdemeanor, such as domestic assault, or a serious traffic violation that could cause injury to others, such as drunk driving or street racing. .

Officers will not be allowed to chase people on foot if they are suspected of committing minor offenses, such as parking violations, driving with suspended licenses, or drinking alcohol in public. But they will still have discretion to go after people they have determined are committing or about to commit crimes that pose “an obvious threat to any person.”

Perhaps most significantly, the policy makes it clear that the days of officers going after them just because someone is trying to avoid them are over.

“Individuals may avoid contact with a member for many reasons other than involvement in criminal activity,” the policy states.

The names of Adam Toledo, 13, and Anthony Alvarez, 22, who were armed when they fled police in separate March 2021 pursuits, are not mentioned in the press release announcing the policy or in the policy. per se. But those activities, in particular Álvarez’s, cast a shadow over politics.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot demanded that the department create an interim policy after the shootings, and the county’s top prosecutor sharply criticized police for pursuing Alvarez. It also appears that the police department took pains to ban that type of foot chase.

In this April 6, 2021, file photo, members of Chicago’s Little Village Community Council march to protest the death of 13-year-old Adam Toledo.

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In this April 6, 2021, file photo, members of Chicago’s Little Village Community Council march to protest the death of 13-year-old Adam Toledo.

Shafkat Anowar/AP

Under the policy, Alvarez’s pursuit apparently would not have been allowed for two key reasons. First, when police chased him for a traffic violation, they knew who he was and where he lived, Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx told reporters in March when she announced that the officers involved in the two shootings would not be charged. . Second, officers can no longer chase people suspected of the type of misdemeanor that led to the chase on foot.

The policy includes a number of circumstances in which an officer must call off a pursuit, including a requirement that the pursuit must end if a third party is injured and needs immediate medical care that no one else can provide. If officers realize they don’t know exactly where they are, which is possible in a chaotic situation where they are running through alleys and between houses, they should stop. And if they can’t communicate with other officers, because they drop their radios or for another reason, they must stop.

The policy also reminds officers that neither they nor their supervisors will be criticized or penalized for deciding against a foot pursuit or calling off one, the importance of a law professor who has studied the department and was part of a legal team that fought successfully against the city for its refusal to release video of a police shooting said it cannot be overstated.

“How do you change the culture that you have to go after those bad guys no matter what, no matter how dangerous they are to everyone around you?” said University of Chicago law professor Craig Futterman. “You create policies that mean you can’t be disciplined, reprimanded, or criticized for following a policy and not engaging in an inherently dangerous act.”

Officers are also prohibited from provoking pursuits, such as employing a tactic in which they speed through their patrols toward a group of people, stop suddenly and jump “with the intent of stopping any fleeing group.”

The city has been waiting for a policy since long before the shootings of Toledo and Álvarez.

Five years ago, the US Department of Justice issued a scathing report that said too many police chases in the city were unnecessary or ended with officers shooting people they weren’t supposed to shoot. And three years ago, a judge signed a consent decree that included a requirement to adopt a foot pursuit policy.

The city also had plenty of evidence about the dangers of foot chases, including a Chicago Tribune investigation that found that a third of the city’s police shootings between 2010 and 2015 involved someone injured or killed during a foot chase.

Police officials have denied any suggestion they have been dragging their feet, saying the department has met deadlines.

But Chicago has not taken the lead on the issue, with other major cities like Baltimore, Philadelphia and Portland, Oregon, having already implemented foot pursuit policies, and Futterman said the department has resisted following suit for years despite to know how dangerous foot chases can be. .

Still, he praised the department.

“Lives have been lost and having a (foot chase policy) and having one that has some teeth … will save lives,” he said.

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