Police ‘Will Not Be Disciplined For Deciding Not To Engage In Or Continue A Foot Pursuit’: Chicago Police Issue New Pursuit Policies
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - AUGUST 10: A police officer stands guard following unrest on the city's westside moments before a derecho storm hits the area on August 10, 2020 in Chicago, Illinois. The storm, with winds gusts close to 100 miles per hour, downed trees and power lines as it moved through the city and suburbs. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
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On Wednesday, the Chicago Police Department (CPD) issued a directive for police pursuing people on foot. Fox News noted of the policy, “Officers must be in ‘continual communication’ with the subject, and ‘position themselves in such a way to reduce the opportunity for a foot chase.’ The officers must also ‘ask themselves of the need to apprehend the subject is worth the risk to responding officers, the public, or the subject.'”

The impetus for the new policy, the website for the city of Chicago explained, was as follows:

In 2017, the United States Department of Justice concluded a yearlong civil rights investigation into the Chicago Police Department. The investigation revealed the need for significant reforms to address deficiencies within the nation’s second-largest police department, including eliminating discriminatory policing. This led a federal judge to authorize a consent decree, which was approved on January 31, 2019. Among the many requirements, the consent decree mandated the Department gather information about foot pursuits for the Independent Monitoring Team (IMT).

On March 5, 2021, upon review of the data, the IMT determined a foot pursuit policy was necessary. The Department immediately began working on a draft policy based on best practices from major cities throughout the country.

The CPD stated, “The new foot pursuit policy, scheduled to become effective June 11, is designed to keep both officers and members of the public safe, and balances the risk of engaging in a pursuit with the need to apprehend the individual. …We conducted internal focus groups which provided feedback from officers that was used to inform the new directives. We will continue hosting additional internal focus groups while also facilitating community input.”

The directive begins by stating that it “establishes the Department policy on foot pursuits, including the considerations for Department members to reduce the likelihood of flight by a subject and mitigate the risks of foot pursuits, determine whether to initiate, engage in, or continue a foot pursuit, outlines the responsibilities for pursuing members, assisting members, and supervisors when involved in a foot pursuit and to safely apprehend fleeing subjects.”

“Foot pursuits carry inherent risk to Department members, members of the public, and fleeing subjects. When engaging in a foot pursuit, the safety of Department members, members of the public, and the fleeing subject should be the primary consideration when determining whether a foot pursuit should be initiated or continued,” it continues, adding, “Department members will not engage in a foot pursuit when prohibited by this directive as outlined in Item V, including the prohibition on engaging in foot pursuits for offenses less than a Class A misdemeanor.”

“Department members, including supervisors, will not be disciplined for deciding not to engage in or continue a foot pursuit or for instructing that a foot pursuit be discontinued, based upon a reasonable assessment that the risk to the involved members, members of the public, or the subject of the continued foot pursuit outweighs the necessity for the immediate apprehension of the subject,” the directive states.

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