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Chicago cops may have to ask permission to chase suspects on foot

Chicago Police. (Terrence Antonio James/Chicago Police/TNS)
April 23, 2021

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot is considering implementing a “momentous” change to Chicago Police Department procedure by requiring that officers receive a supervisor’s permission before engaging in a foot chase.

“No one should die as a result of a foot chase,” Lightfoot said this week, adding that officers should expect the policy change “soon.”

Officials in the Midwest city confirmed to Fox 32 Chicago on Wednesday that the mayor’s office is working to tackle foot chases within its plans for “police reform.”

Alderman Brian Hopkins told the news outlet that officers could soon be required to get permission to engage in foot chases, saying, “Of course that raises obvious problems. In the time it would take to do that, the person you’re supposed to be chasing is actually long gone. The point would be moot then.”

The mayor’s plans follow the death of Adam Toledo, an armed 13-year-old who was fatally shot following a foot chase with police.

Bodycam footage of the incident showed police responding to a report of gunshots and gang activity in the city’s Little Village neighborhood around 2 a.m. Upon arrival, law enforcement chased after Toledo, cornering him and demanding he drop his weapon. One officer, who was reportedly unaware of Toledo’s age, fired his gun at Toledo as he reached for his pocket.

“This is a tragedy that could have and should have been prevented had the police department had clear procedures governing the use of lethal force against children during foot chases,” said personal injury lawyer Arturo Jauregui.

Last weekend, two dozen people were shot in the city, with three suffering fatal injuries, according to ABC 7.

Among those killed recently from gun violence in Chicago was a 7-year-old girl who was fatally shot while she and her father were waiting in a McDonald’s drive-thru.

“I am heartbroken and angered that a 7-year-old child was killed this afternoon on Chicago’s West Side,” Lightfoot tweeted. “This unthinkable act of violence has no place here. The epidemic of gun violence cutting our children’s lives short cannot go on.”

Last year, Chicago saw record-breaking gun crime, logging 3,261 shootings in 2020, a significant spike from the 2,140 shootings in 2019. The city also recorded a staggering 769 homicides in 2020, a 55 percent increase from 2019, police data showed.

The jump in killings puts last year among the highest in Chicago’s history, reversing a three-year trend, the Associated Press reported.

The spike in violent crime across the country was largely attributed to frustration with the COVID-19 pandemic, government lockdowns and other restrictions that created an economic crisis and civil unrest.

“Frustration, anger, unfortunately some of that is playing out in violence,” Lightfoot said. “A lot of things that are manifestations of trauma and mental health challenges have been in full bloom.”