Chicago police officers will no longer be permitted to chase people on foot over minor offenses, the department stated on Tuesday.
Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown announced the new policy designed to increase safety for officers and bystanders. The change is set to go into effect by the end of the summer.
“The safety of our community members and our officers remain at the core of this new foot pursuit policy,” Brown said in a statement, according to NBC Chicago. “We collaborated internally with our officers and externally with our residents to develop a policy we all have a stake in.”
The new policy highlights the “sanctity of all human life” in the protection of the public, defining when pursuits are justified.
“The mere act of flight alone by a person will not serve as justification for engaging in a Foot Pursuit. Department members are prohibited from basing an investigatory stop solely on a person’s response to the presence of police, such as a person’s attempt to avoid contact with a Department member or flight,” the policy notes.
Examples of approved foot pursuits include drunk driving, domestic battery, and street racing. Minor offenses such as parking violations or driving on a suspended license will be excluded from the foot pursuit policy.
The department’s previous policy came under scrutiny after the March 2021 shooting of 22-year-old Anthony Alvarez, who was shot in the back by police after fleeing on foot.
A video of the fatal shooting was released that included the audio of an officer shouting, “Drop the gun! Drop the gun!” before opening fire. Alvarez was armed, with the disturbing video leading to much controversy over the incident.
The city’s police department enacted a temporary foot pursuit policy in June 2021 until the updated policy could be developed.
“As we developed the foot pursuit policy, we ensured that community safety and the safety of our officers was front and center,” Brown said in a statement regarding the temporary policy. “Safety remains our top priority as we implement transformational reforms like this foot pursuit policy.”
The new policy does not mention Alvarez by name nor does the policy specifically refer to the details related to the case.
The policy is part of a larger number of concerns related to crime in the Windy City. In May, Chicago Democratic Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced a 10 p.m. weekend curfew for minors as the city struggles to stop violent crime, including the murder of a teenager that led to the new action.
“No, we don’t want to arrest children. If we have to because they’re breaking the law, we will,” the mayor said during a news conference regarding the curfew.
“My interest is not in rounding up young people and throwing them in the back of a wagon. It’s in enforcing community norms,” Lightfoot added, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.