Chicago, IL

No more foot chases in Chicago for low-level offenses. Empowering criminals or protecting officers’ lives?

Amy Christie

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After two months of deliberation, the Chicago Police Department announced a new policy that basically puts an end to officers chasing suspects on foot.

The new strategy follows the recent police shootings of 13-year-old Adam Toledo and 22-year-old Anthony Alvarez. Based on the new policy, officers will not be allowed to pursue individuals who may have committed a minor traffic offense or low-level misdemeanor unless they are an “obvious threat” to the rest of the community, The Blaze reports.

Officers urged to seek to avoid chases altogether

The new policy also points out officers should try and find ways to avoid foot chases completely. Setting up a perimeter, conducting surveillance, or considering whether the suspect can be apprehended at another time or place are all steps listed in the strategy.

In the end police officers will have to weigh the potential risk to public safety against the need to take the suspect into custody.

“Officers must ask themselves if the need to apprehend the subject is worth the risk to the responding officers, the public, or the offender,” CPD Superintendent David Brown stated at a news conference on Wednesday.
“This will give officers an opportunity, maybe to slow things down and have a better outcome when they're trying to capture suspects. That is the intent of a foot pursuit policy, you know ... let's use de-escalation, let's set up a perimeter if need be. Let's choose the right place to capture him and the right time to capture him or her.”

Chases should also be discontinued if officers are separated from partners

Police officers are also instructed to stop an ongoing foot chase if they get separated from their partner, don’t know their exact location, someone is injured, or there is an excessive distance and nearby obstacles preventing them from apprehending a suspect.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who led the way for this change after Toledo's and Alvarez's deaths, believes this is “a step forward in our mission to modernize and reform our police department.”

Critics say there will be more crime on the streets

The critics to this new approach have pointed out that this could very well empower criminals and make the streets even more dangerous, The Blaze reports.

“Chicago recovers more weapons than New York and Los Angeles combined and most of those weapons are recovered either as the result of a vehicle stop or a foot chase,” Chicago's Fraternal Order of Police President John Catanzara pointed out.

The guidance issued on Wednesday will be the “interim” policy that will come into effect on June 11. After that the public and an independent monitor will weigh in the effects for Chicago safety.

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Amy Christie is a passionate writer and journalist, always striving to bring out the positive and create meaningful connections.

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