Chicago Police Supt. David Brown on Wednesday announced changes to the police department's foot pursuit policy, prohibiting such chases in certain situations for officers.
Under the policy, which will begin as an interim plan with final rules set for September, foot pursuits would only be allowed 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."
It would also prohibit foot chases stemming from minor traffic offenses.
"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," Chicago Mayor Lori 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."
According to the police department, the interim plan will take effect on June 11 and revisions will be made before the finalized version is completed in September.
"It’s essential the voices of our officers and community members are represented in policies that can directly affect them," 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."
Officers will be required to complete a mandatory e-learning on the new policy, Brown said.
The interim plan includes the following:
· 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 adjustment to the foot pursuit policy comes after city residents and officials called for updated guidance in wake of the fatal police shooting of 13-year-old Adam Toledo, who was shot and killed by police in the city's Little Village neighborhood.
Lightfoot said at the time that CPD’s foot chase policy was in need for reforms after it was pushed aside for reforms in the 2013 federal consent decree. Lightfoot said there are hundreds of police foot chases a year, and that they bring “a dangerous environment for all involved.”
“We will not push off the foot pursuit reform for another day,” Lightfoot said.
Brown on Wednesday addressed concerns surrounding whether the new policy will embolden criminals to flee the scene of crimes going forward.
"There's no data to support that crime goes up because foot pursuit policies have been implemented," Brown said, adding that the department plans to monitor the impact of the new policy on city crime and collect data.
As for whether or not officers could be blamed should they not chase a suspect, Brown noted that a chase doesn't ensure an arrest.
"So even today we don't capture every suspect that runs from us on foot. Suspects, they get away and we capture them another day." he said. " I don't know that we can have a crystal ball to see whether or not in the future, will this policy hinder our capture? I would argue that this policy likely will cause us to help officers be safer, which is invaluable. It's priceless to have officers well, safe. You know, general public is safer because their outcomes were obviously a lot of unintended consequences in trying to cop capture suspects that can harm other individuals. So I think the policy will be well served, if it protects one officer from injury, one citizen, one person in the community from injury, one offender being captured without undo injury."