CHICAGO (CBS) — Community groups will gather today to call for a moratorium on foot chases by Chicago Police when there is “no serious threat of harm to the officer or others.”
Concern is high after two deadly police shootings took place in March following foot pursuits. Adam Toledo, 13, was shot and killed by an officer during a chase in a Little Village alley on March 29, and two days later 22-year-old Anthony Alvarez was shot and killed while running away from officers in Portage Park.
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Leaders from the Illinois Latino Agenda and the Pilsen Law Center support suspending all foot chases where there is “no serious threat of harm to the officer or others.”
The groups said the police shootings of Adam Toledo and Anthony Alvarez were clearly not justified, noting video shows Adam had dropped his gun and was raising his hands when the officer shot him, and that Alvarez was shot in the back while running away from police.
“The police should not be allowed to set in motion a chain of events like those that took the lives of Adam and Anthony, and that cheaply value lives of the members of our community with quick and mindless resort to the use of lethal force. This is not an acceptable way for foot pursuits to end,” the groups said in a joint statement. “The moratorium should remain in effect until new procedures and policies aimed at protecting the sanctity of human life during all interactions between police officers and city residents are in place and all police officers are fully trained.”
Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Chicago Police Supt. David Brown have said CPD is working to update its foot pursuit policies and expects to roll it out later this month.
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Last week, the mayor said she considered ordering CPD to suspend all foot pursuits until the new policy is in place, but dismissed the idea as an inappropriate response.
“It’s always easy to say, ‘Let’s just stop,’ but I also don’t want to signal to individuals – particularly in communities that are under siege by violence – that you can avoid any accountability by running faster than police. I think that would send a terrible message,” she said.
Lightfoot said she hopes the new policy is ready to be put out for public comment in the next few weeks, but she said it’s important to gather input from community groups as well as rank-and-file officers who will be tasked with carrying out the new policy before unveiling it.
“It’s way past time to get this right, and I’m committed to making sure that we do that; but do it in a way that reflects comments from the public, as well as from the officers who are themselves putting themselves at risk every time they engage in a foot pursuit,” she said.
Illinois Latino Agenda and the Pilsen Law Center said the new policy on foot chases “should clearly spell out the circumstances under which police officers can use lethal force when interacting with city residents.”
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“Such procedures must include strong disciplinary measures against any officer who violates the procedures. Under no circumstances should lethal force be sanctioned against a fleeing suspect who obeys the commands of an officer. We should never have another shooting like Adam or Anthony,” the groups said.