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Chicago police officers will not be allowed to chase people on foot for running away or committing minor offenses, Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown said Tuesday.
The new policy comes more than a year after the fatal police shootings of 13-year-old Adam Toledo and 21-year-old Anthony Alvarez and is expected to be implemented by the end of the summer after all officers receive training.
A Chicago Tribune investigation from 2010 through 2015 showed that a third of the city’s police shootings during that time frame involved someone being wounded or killed during a foot pursuit.
“The safety of our community members and our officers remain at the core of this new foot pursuit policy,” Brown said in the statement. “We collaborated internally with our officers and externally with our residents to develop a policy we all have a stake in.”
The new policy states that officers may 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 injury to others, such as drunk driving or street racing.
Chicago Police change policies
Many fatal police shootings across the country, especially for Black and Brown people, have begun with either a minor traffic violation or an individual fleeing.
Bennie Edwards was killed by the Oklahoma City Police Department while he was having an acute mental health event and fleeing on foot.
Patrick Lyoya was pulled over for a minor traffic violation by Grand Rapids Police when he fled on foot and was shot execution-style by an officer in the back of his head.
Walter Scott was pulled over for a broken tail light, and later shot five times in his back by a South Carolina police officer after trying to run away from the officer.
The act of fleeing alone by a person is not justification for engaging in a foot pursuit, the new policy states, nor does it imply criminal activity.
“People may avoid contact with a member for many reasons other than involvement in criminal activity,” the policy says.
Officers are also prohibited from provoking chases, such as by employing a tactic in which they speed in their squad cars toward a group of people, stop suddenly and jump out “with the intention of stopping anyone in the group who flees.”
Chicago follows the lead of other cities such as Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Portland who have all already implemented foot pursuit policies.
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