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Chicago police barred from chasing suspects on foot just because they’re running away

Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown. (John J. Kim/Chicago Tribune/TNS)
June 23, 2022

The Chicago Police Department is now barring officers from chasing suspects on foot just because they’re running away, officials announced on Tuesday.

According to the new policy, the “mere act of flight alone” does not justify a foot pursuit. Officers are banned from basing investigations only on an individual’s response to the police presence – like avoiding contact with an officer or fleeing – due to concerns over the “inherent risks” associated with foot pursuits.

Officers may only engage in a foot pursuit “if there is a valid law enforcement need to detain the person that the Department members reasonably believe outweighs the threat to safety posed by pursuit.”

Reasons an officer might reasonably chase a suspect include: the suspect has committed, is committing, or is about to commit a felony, Class A misdemeanor, or a traffic offense that endangers others, or if the suspect is “about to commit an arrestable offense that poses an obvious physical threat to any person.”

Under the policy, officers are expected to “weigh the seriousness of the offense against the immediate need to apprehend.”

“The safety of our community members and our officers remain at the core of this new foot pursuit policy,” Superintendent David Brown said in a statement. “We collaborated internally with our officers and externally with our residents to develop a policy we all have a stake in.”

The policy will likely go into effect before the end of the summer after officers have undergone additional training.

The new standards come after Adam Toledo, an armed 13-year-old, 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.

“No one should die as a result of a foot chase,” said Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot following the incident.

Meanwhile, Chicago Police said 61 victims were wounded in dozens of shootings over the weekend, according to ABC 7 News. Ten people were also killed as gun violence swept across the heavily gun-controlled city’s South and West sides.  

Chicago has some of the most restrictive gun laws in the country, including universal background checks, waiting periods and restrictions related to domestic violence, the Chicago Tribune reported.