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Activists call for stricter policing of CPD foot pursuits

“Interim” chase rules that take effect Friday will not prevent chases that can lead to deadly encounters, activists say. The public still can comment on the policy until July 15, and that input could be incorporated into a permanent policy.

Flanked by supporters, Crista Noel, with Women’s All Points Bulletin, discusses the Chicago Police Department’s new foot pursuit policy during a news conference outside CPD headquarters on the South Side, Wednesday morning, June 9, 2021.
Flanked by supporters, Crista Noel, with Women’s All Points Bulletin, discusses the Chicago Police Department’s new foot pursuit policy during a news conference outside CPD headquarters Wednesday morning.
Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

A new Chicago Police Department policy intended to limit when police officers chase suspects on foot takes effect this week, and activists say the new rules still give cops too much latitude to engage in pursuits that can escalate minor incidents into fatal encounters.

Activists gathered outside CPD headquarters in Bronzeville on Wednesday to protest shortcomings in an “interim” policy announced by the department last month, just weeks after the fatal police shootings of 13-year-old Adam Toledo and 22-year-old Anthony Alvarez, who were gunned down after they fled from officers.

Walking away from the press conference, teary-eyed Cynthia Lane talked to a reporter as she stood beside her 9-year-old grandson, Roshad McIntosh Jr.

Lane’s son, Roshad McIntosh Sr. was killed in 2014 after a police chase that began when police approached a group of people gathered in the 2800 block of West Polk Street and McIntosh took off. Ofc. Robert Slechter gave chase and shot McIntosh, who had allegedly pointed a gun at Slechter. The department and the Civilian Office of Police Accountability both ruled the shooting justified.

“I don’t think (police) have a policy that they are following, and they are not being monitored well, for this to keep happening,” Lane said Thursday. “Does not need to keep happening.”

Arewa Karen Winters, great aunt of Pierre Loury, who was killed by Chicago police in April 2016, puts her arm around Cynthia Lane and her 9-year-old grandson as speakers discuss the Chicago Police Department’s new foot pursuit policy during a news conference outside CPD headquarters on the South Side Wednesday morning. Lane’s son, Roshad McIntosh, was killed by Chicago police in August 2014.
Arewa Karen Winters, great aunt of Pierre Loury, who was killed by Chicago police in April 2016, puts her arm Cynthia Lane and her 9-year-old grandson as speakers discuss the Chicago Police Department’s new foot pursuit policy during a news conference outside CPD headquarters on the South Side, Wednesday morning, June 9, 2021. Lane’s son, Roshad McIntosh, was killed by Chicago police in August 2014.
Ashlee Rezin García/Sun-Times

The policy announced in May does not incorporate suggestions from a mayoral panel that was charged with making recommendations about how CPD handles use of force by officers, said Nusrat Choudhury, legal director for ACLU Illinois and a member of the Use of Force Working Group.

Officers still are allowed to chase suspects for minor offenses, with no clear statement in the policy that such pursuits are “inherently dangerous,” Choudhury said. The department also does not require officers to document every foot chase, or provide reasons for chasing down someone.

Members of the public have until July 15 to comment on the foot chase policy, input that the department can incorporate into a permanent policy.

The changes to departmental orders were required by a federal monitor, which found that CPD lacked adequate rules for foot pursuits. In about 8% of police foot chases during one six-month period analyzed by the monitor, officers used deadly force against the suspect, according to a report filed by the monitor.

Those statistics are glaringly incomplete, said Sheila Bedi, a Northwestern University law professor, who is director of the law school’s Community Justice and Civil Rights Clinic.

A review of body-camera footage showed some 600 police chases that were not identified in CPD data, Bedi said. The monitor had required the department to roll out a final policy on July 1.

“This was not a response to the Adam Toledo shooting, or [the shooting of] Anthony Alvarez. This was a problem that had been identified well before that,” Bedi said. “There is a mythology that police are just there to chase down the bad guys. There are other ways to apprehend someone, if needed, that are far less dangerous for the officer, the person and the community.”