CPD brass is reviewing foot chase policy proposal — Here’s what’s in it (and what’s not)

Chicago Police Supt. David Brown on Wednesday said CPD is “proceeding with a sense of urgency” on a new foot-chase policy for the city’s cops. The department started moving on the policy after Mayor Lori Lightfoot ordered Brown to prioritize a foot pursuit policy following the recent fatal shootings of 13-year-old Adam Toledo and Anthony Alvarez, 22, during separate chases in the city.

“We will not push off the foot pursuit reform for another day,” Lightfoot said in the days after Toledo’s death.

In fact, drafts of the policy are already circulating among police brass — and CWBChicago has received a copy of a recent version from a source.

While some media reports have said CPD’s foot pursuit policy would require cops to get permission from supervisors before running after a suspect, no such provision appears in the days-old draft we reviewed.

However, the proposal does require police supervisors to “monitor foot pursuits to appropriately coordinate the situation.” And, the policy states, supervisors “may advise” officers to discontinue a foot chase if they believe the risk to officers, the public, or the person being chased outweigh the need to apprehend the person immediately.

The draft policy also promotes establishing a perimeter area for “containment/tactical apprehension” over riskier foot pursuits.

“Officers may determine that the best course of action may be to contain the subject rather than attempting to overtake and immediately apprehend them,” the proposed policy states. In such cases, additional units would maintain control of an outer perimeter while supervisors “develop and coordinate a plan for tactical apprehension of the subject.”

Cops will also be told not to separate from their partners during foot chases “absent exigent circumstances” under the proposal.

The draft also re-states elements of CPD’s use-of-force policy, including reminders that force must be “objectively reasonable, necessary, and proportional.” Deadly force, the draft says, “is a last resort” to be used only when there is “an imminent threat to life or to prevent great bodily harm” to an officer or the public.

Much of the proposed policy focuses on officer safety during foot pursuits. One section lists obstacles and hazards that cops need to be aware of when chasing someone — things like clotheslines, poorly-maintained buildings, and their own unfamiliarity with an area. Another section warns cops to use caution near corners, fences, and obstacles where the suspect might set up an ambush.

“It really is important for us to get it right,” Brown said as he spoke about the chase policy Wednesday.

Brown knows a thing or two about what works and what doesn’t work in foot chase policies. As chief of the Dallas Police Department, he helped develop a foot chase policy — and then rolled parts of it back two years later.

Dallas officials created the policy after a cop responded to a kidnapping call and chased a suspect. The man fought the cop twice and kept running. The cop, separated from backup officers, eventually shot and killed the man. A grand jury refused to charge the officer with any crime.

But the incident led to the creation of a DPD foot chase policy that barred solo cops from chasing more than one suspect. Partnered officers were prohibited from splitting up to chase different suspects. And cops were barred from chasing people whose identities were known.

Two years later, the department revised its policy to allow partnered officers to chase suspects even when they are outnumbered. Cops are once again allowed to chase people whose identities were known. The policy originally said cops could continue a chase only if they came to a “conclusion” that terminating the pursuit would present an immediate danger to the public. In 2015, DPD changed the word “conclusion” to “belief.”

“Sometimes it seems like our young officers want to get into an athletic event with people they want to arrest,” Brown said while he was Dallas’ chief in 2015. “They feel like they’re warriors, and they can’t back down when someone is running from them, no matter how minor the underlying crime is.”

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CWBChicago was created in 2013 by five residents of Wrigleyville and Boystown who had grown disheartened with inaccurate information that was being provided at local Community Policing (CAPS) meetings. Our coverage area has expanded since then to cover Lincoln Park, River North, The Loop, Uptown, and other North Side Areas. But our mission remains unchanged: To provide original public safety reporting with better context and greater detail than mainstream media outlets. Our editorial email address is news@cwbchicago.com