A Look at the New Chicago Police Foot Pursuit Policy

Jun 25, 2021

The Chicago Police Department has introduced a new foot pursuit policy following the fatal police shootings of Adam Toledo, 13, and Anthony Alvarez, 21. The two young men were shot by Chicago police officers following foot pursuits in March of 2021. Foot pursuits are inherently dangerous for the officers involved, the fleeing suspect, and the public at large. The problem with foot pursuits has been known since 2016. In 2016, the Chicago Tribune conducted an analysis of Chicago police shootings from 2010 through 2015 found that foot chases played a role in more than a third of the 235 cases that ended with someone wounded or killed. In 2017, the Department of Justice found that Chicago police “engage in tactically unsound and unnecessary foot pursuits, which too often end with officers unreasonably shooting someone.”

The new policy goes into effect June 11, 2021. The new policy restricts CPD foot chases, listing pursuits as “appropriate only when they [officers] have reasonable articulable suspicion to believe that the subject has committed, is committing, or is about to commit a crime, or probable cause to substantiate an arrest and the subject flees.” Officers can no longer pursue potential suspects from “minor traffic offenses” or other “class A misdemeanors” “unless the person poses an obvious threat to the community or any person.” Additionally, Chicago police officers are prohibited from a foot pursuit when an individual avoids contact with officers, such as walking away, declining to talk, running away, or crossing the street to avoid contact. Officers are prohibited from chasing a person on foot if the officer or the person is injured, if the officer has lost track of their location or their surroundings, if there is too much distance or obstacles between the officer and the person they are chasing, and if they will not be able to control the subject of the chase in a confrontation. Chicago police officers must activate body worn cameras for every foot pursuit. The policy also requires that officers notify the Office of Emergency Management and Communications (OEMC) immediately upon the initiation of a foot pursuit.

Prior to engaging in a foot pursuit, officers are required to use force mitigation principles when approaching a subject. These force mitigation principles include: verbal control techniques to avoid or minimize flight and calm the subject by tone of voice and choice of words, tactical positioning, and using the element of time to request assistance, permit the de-escalation of the situation, and allow for the arrival of back up if there is a reasonable belief that the subject may present a flight risk.

When determining whether to initiate a foot pursuit or employ alternatives, the policy states that officers should consider factors that impact the risk or safety of the officer, members of the public, and the subject. These factors include: the number of subjects involved, the number of officers involved, including working alone as a one-person unit; whether the officer involved have identified themselves or are readily identifiable as Chicago police officers; whether the subject is believed or known to be armed, the severity of the offense committed by the subject, the presence of a victim, and likelihood that the offense will continue, recur, or endanger or disregard the safety of others if the subject is not apprehended; the identity of the subject has been clearly established to the point that later apprehension can be accomplished; the availability and proximity of assist units; the availability of radio communications; the safety concerns based on the physical characteristic of the pursuit location. The policy recognizes that the pursuit of an armed subject carries greater inherent risk than pursuing a subject who is not, and discourages a foot pursuit in that situation

The policy explicitly prohibits prior to, during, and after a foot pursuit, officers from using, excessive or unlawful force, force as punishment or retaliation (e.g., force used to punish or retaliate for fleeing or resisting arrest), and deadly force, including on a fleeing subject, unless necessary to protect against an imminent threat to life or to prevent great bodily harm to the member or another person.

Despite all the restrictions the policy places on officers in deciding to engage in a foot pursuit, the policy still allows officers to run after fleeing individuals. If you have suffered injuries as a result of a foot pursuit with a Chicago police officer, or a police officer from any other jurisdiction, do not hesitate to reach out to Coffman Law.

Be sure to stay tuned to the Coffman Law blog, as we will continue updating our readers on the latest and most important legal news.

About Coffman Law Offices, P.C.

Coffman Law is Chicago’s leading personal injury law firm and is committed to providing superb legal representation for people who are suffering from severe personal injuries or are dealing with the loss of a loved one due to police and/or correctional officer misconduct. Coffman Law is a results-driven law firm focused on ensuring that clients receive the compassion, attention, and consideration that they need to seek adequate compensation for injuries or loss. The firm is led by Owner and Founding Partner Brian Coffman, who has dedicated his career to helping accident victims navigate the legal system and obtain compensation for their injuries. If you have been injured or lost a loved one, contact Coffman Law today for a free consultation.