More than a year after the controversial fatal shootings of 13-year-old Adam Toledo and 21-year-old Anthony Alvarez during foot pursuits, the Chicago Police Department announced a policy Tuesday that places more limits and oversight on such chases. The policy, expected to be implemented by the end of the summer, includes “clearer guidelines” and additional training for officers, as well as improved data collection to analyze pursuits, reports the Chicago Sun-Times. It bars officers from chasing a person simply for fleeing, and advises them to reconsider pursuing someone who appears armed with a gun. The police department unveiled a temporary policy last May before releasing a draft of the final policy in February, soliciting the public’s input after criticism that the initial effort was vague and inadequate.
Under the final policy, cops are prohibited from engaging in chases unless “there is a valid need to detain the person” that “outweighs the threat to safety posed by pursuit.” An officer can’t initiate a chase “based solely on a person’s response to the presence of police,” such as running off or declining to talk. Officers should also “consider alternatives” to chasing someone under various circumstances. Officers can only chase a suspect who has committed, or who is about to commit, a felony, a Class A misdemeanor, a traffic offense that “endangers the physical safety of others,” or an “arrestable offense” that “poses an obvious physical threat to any person.” The American Clvil Liberties Union of Illinois continued to raise “profound concerns” about the policy, warning that key aspect effectively allows officers to chase someone based on a “lower standard” than the probable cause needed to make an arrest. Robert Boik of the police Office of Constitutional Policing and Reform, said the policy includes two main changes: “enhanced supervision” that mandates two separate reviews of pursuits; and a form for officers to fill out after engaging in a chase to ensure the department is “collecting information that better informs policies, tactics [and] training.”