CHICAGO (CBS) -- Chicago's mayor and police superintendent announced a new foot pursuit policy after controversial incidents involving chases, including the police shooting death of 13-year-old Adam Toledo.
"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," said Mayor Lightfoot. "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."
It will largely depend on the situation and whether the public is in danger before officers have the green light to take off on foot.
Chicago police faced new scrutiny after an officer fatally shot 13-year-old Adam Toledo in March. The teenager had been chased by officers on foot.
Superintendent David Brown said the revised foot chase policy aims to keep everyone safer.
"I think the policy will be well deserved if it protects one officer from injury, one citizen, one person from the community, from injury, one offender being captured without undue injury," Brown said.
According to the mayor's office, the policy will be "implemented" on June 11 and CPD "will continue to review the policy and make revisions as appropriate, with a finalized policy to be completed in September."
"It's essential the voices of our officers and community members are represented in policies that can directly affect them," said Superintendent Brown. "As we transform the police department through reform, we will continue to collaborate with our residents to make Chicago safer for everyone."
When asked if it would give officers a chance to slow things down with the possibility of a better outcome when they're trying to capture suspects, Brown said yes.
"That is the intended purpose of policy is that, you know, let's let, let's let things slow down, let's use de-escalation," Brown said. "Let's set up a perimeter if we need to be less choosy. Just choose the right place to capture him and then the right time to capture him or her."
Adam Toledo appeared to have a gun a moment before he was shot and officers had been responding to a call of shots fired. CBS 2 asked whether such a policy would have made a difference in the Toledo case.
Police would not comment.
It's been three years since the US Department of Justice called for foot chase guidelines in Chicago. And CBS 2 wanted to know exactly what should that policy say.
"The fact that Chicago doesn't have one is a real problem," said Alexa Van Brunt, an attorney with the MacArthur Justice Center.
Right now, Chicago doesn't have a formal policy for scenarios like this: The foot pursuit that ultimately led to the shooting death of 13-year-old Adam Toledo last month.
The Civilian Office Police Accountability (COPA) released the body cam video of the chase, after body cam video of police pursuits in recent years that have resulted in shootings.
Cara Hendrickson with the public interest law center BPI considers it inherently dangerous.
"I think the video demonstrates, not only a need for a policy regarding foot pursuits, which would also cause us to ask ourselves why have we come to the point where we've known for years that we need this policy and we still don't have one," Hendrickson said.
Highlights of the revised policy according to CPD 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 full policy can be viewed HERE.
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