Chicago police officers may have to get permission from supervisor to engage in foot pursuits

Following the officer-involved shooting death of 13-year-old Adam Toledo in Chicago, police may now be forced to get permission from their supervisor before engaging in a foot pursuit of a suspect.

Toledo was fatally shot in the chest by an officer who chased him down an alley on March 29. The boy had a gun and was told to drop it. The weapon was hidden behind his body as he tossed it and then turned with his hands raised. The officer allegedly mistook the motion for him raising his gun to fire at him since he could not see what was going on behind Toledo. The suspect died at the scene despite officers trying to save his life.

That incident has now created a firestorm over whether officers should determine on their own whether to pursue a suspect in the commission of a crime and their use of force during the pursuit.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot has wavered between voicing support for the police and condemning them for carrying out their duties. She has aggressively denounced the killing of Toledo and has vowed that there will be significant changes to the Chicago Police Department’s foot pursuit policy.

(Video Credit: Fox 32 Chicago)

“No one should die as a result of a foot chase,” she proclaimed. Later, the mayor would admit that there was no perfect solution to the problem. Lightfoot is promising to disclose details on the new policy “soon.”

“I don’t want people out there who are dangerous to think, ‘Well, if I just run, then I’m safe. I can continue to wreak havoc,'” Lightfoot said seemingly torn over the issue. “We can’t live in that world, either.”

Personal injury lawyer Arturo Jauregui called a news conference to promote the reformation of the policy: “This is a tragedy that could have and should have been prevented had the police department had clear procedures governing the use of lethal force against children during foot chases,” Jauregui declared.

Lightfoot has previously demanded that the foot pursuit policy be reviewed by summer but is evidently moving up the timeline under pressure over the Toledo shooting.

Officers are provided with a training bulletin in regard to foot pursuits. It states that the general public’s safety, as well as that of the suspect and officers, should be the highest priority when the decision is made whether to pursue the fleeing suspect or not.

Police officers are already required to get permission from a supervisor to initiate a vehicle pursuit of a suspect.

City Alderman Brian Hopkins told Fox 32 Chicago: “Of course that raises obvious problems,” Hopkins commented. “In the time it would take to do that, the person you’re supposed to be chasing is actually long gone. The point would be moot then.”

He also pointed out the unintended consequence of the current vehicle pursuit policy: “We’re seeing more vehicles flee from police officers because word has gotten out that they’re probably not going to get permission to chase you,” he explained.

Hopkins stated that rewriting Chicago’s current vague foot pursuit rules is overdue: “I’m sure the officers themselves would agree with me. The more guidance we can give them, the more comfortable they’ll feel when they have to make these high-stakes decisions in the blink of an eye,” Hopkins stated.

Homicides have increased drastically in Chicago since last year. Police department statistics that were released on April 1, show that there have been 131 murders reported in the first three months of 2021 compared to 98 this time last year. By the end of March, at least 706 people had been shot in Chicago.

Mayor Lightfoot got an earful on social media:

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