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Chicago police banned from chasing people who run away over minor offenses

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Police officers in Chicago will be banned from chasing anyone suspected of committing minor offenses under a new policy announced on Tuesday.

Chicago Police Department (CPD) officers may pursue a suspect if they believe they are committing or about to commit a felony, a Class A misdemeanor such as domestic assault, or a serious traffic offense that could risk injuring others such as drunk driving or street racing.

The police department had faced pressure to adopt the new policy after foot pursuits two days apart in March 2021 ended in the high-profile fatal shootings of Adam Toledo, 13, and 22-year-old Anthony Alvarez.

Officers won’t be allowed to chase people on foot if they suspect them of minor offenses such as parking violations, driving on suspended licenses or drinking alcohol in public. But they will still have discretion to people who they’ve determined are committing or about to commit crimes that post “an obvious threat to any person.”

The policy makes clear that the days of officers giving chase just because someone tries to avoid them are over. The policy goes on to remind officers that they or their supervisors will not be criticized or disciplined for deciding against a foot pursuit or calling one off.

“People may avoid contact with a member for many reasons other than involvement in criminal activity,” the policy states.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot demanded that the department create an interim policy after the shootings and the county’s top prosecutor harshly criticised police for their pursuit of Alvarez.

“We’ve been working in conjunction with the consent decree monitor and other stakeholders in getting this right,” Chicago Police Supt. David Brown said.

Members of the Little Village Community Council have been vocal critics of police policy after the shooting deaths of Toledo and Alvarez.

President Baltazar Enriquez said he’s unsure whether the new policy will make a difference. “We could write as many policies as we want, but if CPD is not going to follow them, there’s no point in having all these policies,” Enriquez said.

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