Chicago police officer

Chicago police are no longer allowed to chase people on foot just for running away

In a move to make policing safer for both its citizens and its police officers, Chicago has created a new foot pursuit policy. This policy prevents police officers from chasing someone who runs away over a minor offense. They made this decision after several deadly incidents that occurred between citizens and police after a foot chase for offenses that were not major criminal offenses or endangering other people.

Chicago Police Are No Longer Allowed To Chase People For Just Running Away

A new rule is changing the way Chicago police officers can act in certain situations. Officers will no longer be allowed to chase people who are running away and who are suspected of only minor offenses. These include things such as parking violations, driving with a suspended license, or drinking alcohol in public. The department announced the change just over a year after two-foot pursuits over minor offenses ended in officers fatally killing a 13-year-old boy and a 22-year-old man. (1)

This is a monumental change for the department. It is the first time that it has given officers permanent rules about when they can and can’t engage in an activity that can endanger themselves, those they’re chasing, and innocent bystanders. It will be implemented by the end of the summer.

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“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 announcing the policy. “We collaborated internally with our officers and externally with our residents to develop a policy we all have a stake in.” (2)

The Policy Details

This policy does not mean that Chicago police officers are 100% prohibited from foot chases. It just puts more restrictions on when they can and can’t chase people. For example, officers can still give chase if they believe that someone is:

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  • Committing or about to commit a felony
  • A Class A misdemeanor (for example, domestic battery)
  • A serious traffic offense (for example, drunk driving or street racing that could risk injuring others)

For suspition of minor offenses, however, officers will no longer be allowed to give chase. These include things such as parking violations, driving with a suspended license, or drinking in public. If they believe that someone is committing or about to commit a crime, however, that posts an obvious threat to others, they can still chase. Essentially, the new rule is preventing officers from chasing someone simply because they are running away.

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“People may avoid contact with a member for many reasons other than involvement in criminal activity,” the policy states.

Read: Ex-football player acquitted of murder in beating of gay man who posed as woman during sex act

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The Reason Behind The Policy

Police brutality has been a hot topic in recent years across the United States. An analysis completed by the Chicago Tribune found that between 2010 and 2015, foot chases played a role in more than a third of the 235 cases that ended up with someone wounded or killed. 

About half of these pursuits start in a rather routine manner. The police tried to stop or question someone over things like public drinking, curfew violations, disturbance calls, or other minor offenses. Though often “threat to police safety” is used as an excuse for using deadly force, the Tribune found that nearly a quarter of those killed in foot chases were shot in the back. This positioning suggests that this person was not actually a threat to the officer at all. (3)

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Too Many Tragedies

There have been too many cases of police officers shooting unarmed or unthreatening people over very minor offenses. Most recently were the shootings of 13-year-old Adam Toledo and 22-year-old Anthony Alvarez.

In the case of Toledo, the officer was responding to a call of shots fired. As it turns out, the person whose shots the call were made over was not 13-year-old Toledo. The boy was scared and ran, until he came up to a fence, where the police officer shot him despite having raised empty hands. (4)

Alvarez, though he was armed, was running away from the officer when shot. They were chasing him over a minor offense. In the bodycam video of the officer you can hear Alvarez ask the officer why he shot him, to which the officer responded “You have a gun”. (5)

It was shortly after these incidents, all of which took place within the same month, that citizens began calling for changes. Finally, just over a year later, those changes have arrived. Chicago has followed suit with cities such as Portland, Baltimore, and Philadelphia. Hopefully, this will be changed for the better.

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Sources

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  1. Chicago police are no longer allowed to chase people on foot just for running away.” NBC News. The Associated Press. June 21, 2022.
  2. New Chicago Police Department policy bars officers from chasing a person simply for fleeing.” Chicago Sun Times. Tom Schuba. June 21, 2022.
  3. Third of police shootings started with foot chases, Tribune analysis finds.” Chicago Tribune. Angela Caputo, Jennifer Smith Richards and Jason Meisner. September 7, 2016.
  4. Chicago Releases Video Showing Fatal Police Shooting Of 13-Year-Old Adam Toledo.” NPR. Rachel Treisman, Vanessa Romo and Barbara Campbell. April 15, 2021.
  5. Chicago’s Release Of Police Shooting Videos May Change Foot Pursuit Policy.” NPR. Patrick Smith. April 30, 2021
Julie Hambleton
Freelance Writer
Julie Hambleton has a BSc in Food and Nutrition from the Western University, Canada, is a former certified personal trainer and a competitive runner. Julie loves food, culture, and health, and enjoys sharing her knowledge to help others make positive changes and live healthier lives.
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