Chicago Police may no longer chase suspects on foot because they run away or for low-level offenses, according to updated guidance from the department.
“The mere act of flight alone by a person will not serve as justification for engaging in a Foot Pursuit,” the new directive states. The policy prohibits officers from stopping someone after they run away from a police officer.
Law enforcement may now only engage in a foot pursuit if the pursuing officer establishes a Reasonable Articulable Suspicion (RAS), or “probable cause to believe that (1) the person being pursued has committed, is committing, or is about to commit a Felony, a Class A misdemeanor, a traffic offense that endangers the physical safety of others, or (2) the person being pursued is or is about to commit an arrestable offense that poses an obvious physical threat to any person.”
According to the new guidance, foot pursuits are permitted for offenses including: aggravated assault, battery, domestic battery, unlawful use of a weapon, criminal trespass to residence, theft, and retail theft.
Officers will no longer be allowed to chase people for offenses like suspended licenses, insurance violations, business license offenses, drinking in public, simple assault, criminal trespass to land, or violations that are only enforceable by citation.
Police also may not chase someone simply because that person tried to avoid them. So, if a person declines to speak with an officer, or walks or runs away after seeing an officer, the officer may not pursue.
The updated policy guidelines were created after two incidents involving officers who chased and fatally shot a 13-year-old and 22-year-old within days of each other in 2021. The officers chased them on foot and the deaths sparked protests and calls for the police department to change its policy of officer pursuits.
“As he (Alvarez) began to use both hands to push himself off the ground, Officer Solano arrived at the corner of the residence and observed Mr. Alvarez in a crouching position with a handgun in his right hand,” said Cook County State Attorney Kim Foxx.
“That led Solano, she said, to believe Alvarez ‘was waiting to ambush him,’” according to the Associated Press.
But, Tim Grace, an attorney who represented both officers, told the AP he believed Foxx’s statement was too harsh.
“Police have the duty to enforce the law and the idea that someone can break the law, drive without a license and run from the police is wrong,” he said. “If you don’t want (police officers) to enforce the law, just tell them.”