CHICAGO - On Wednesday, Mayor Lori Lightfoot and the Chicago Police Department announced a new foot pursuit policy that puts first the safety of officers, any suspects involved and the general public.
The new policy will take effect starting June 11, 2021, and using the next couple months for revisions, a finalized policy will be implemented in September.
"Because foot pursuits are one of the most dangerous actions that police officers can engage in, we cannot afford to wait any longer to put a policy in place that regulates them," Mayor Lightfoot said in a statement. "The important parameters outlined in this policy will not only protect our officers, the public and potential suspects during foot pursuits, but it also serves as a step forward in our mission to modernize and reform our police department."
Highlights of the revised policy include:
- Reminding officers to begin any interaction with tactics meant to reduce the possibility of a foot pursuit.
- Defining foot pursuits as appropriate only when there is probable cause for an arrest or it is believed an individual has committed, is committing or is about to commit a crime.
- Prohibiting foot pursuits stemming from minor traffic offenses.
- Detailing tactics to avoid a foot pursuit, including continual communication with a subject and encouraging officers to position themselves in such a way to reduce the opportunity for a foot chase.
- Outlining alternatives to foot pursuits that should always be considered by officers, including establishing a surveillance or containment area and/or apprehending an identified suspect at another time or place.
- Ensuring circumstances surrounding a foot pursuit are considered before any foot pursuit takes place. Officers must ask themselves if the need to apprehend the subject is worth the risk to responding officers, the public, or the subject.
- Prohibiting foot pursuits for criminal offenses less than a Class A misdemeanor, unless the person poses an obvious threat to the community or any person.
- Discontinuing foot pursuits if someone is injured and requires immediate medical assistance; if officers are unaware of their location; and if the need to apprehend the subject is not worth the risk to responding officers, the public or the subject.
- Informing Department members that they should not separate from their partner or from assisting units in a foot pursuit if the loss of visual contact, excessive distance or nearby obstacles interfere with their ability to come to the aid of their partner.
- Termination of a foot pursuit if officers engaged in the pursuit believe they would not be able to control the suspect if a confrontation were to occur.
- Outline responsibilities for supervisors, which allow them to instruct officers to discontinue a foot pursuit at any time.
- Requiring officers to notify the Office of Emergency Management and Communications (OEMC) of a foot pursuit.
- Ensuring officers engaged in foot pursuits activate body-worn cameras to record the entire incident in accordance with the Department’s body-worn camera policy.
The Chicago Police Department will hold a live virtual webinar on June 1 to review the policy and answer questions from the public.
"It’s essential the voices of our officers and community members are represented in policies that can directly affect them," Police Superintendent David Brown said in a statement. "As we transform the police department through reform, we will continue to collaborate with our residents to make Chicago safer for everyone."
The new policy comes after the fatal shooting of 13-year-old Adam Toledo.