The next step: Banning police foot chases

(AP Photo/Paul Beaty, File)

The police in Chicago may have some extra time on their hands if a group of protesters and advocates get their way. Recent marches have featured signs and speakers demanding a change in the way the Chicago PD does business when trying to apprehend suspects. Any person suspected of criminal activity who is on foot should not be chased by the police unless there is a clear and present threat to the safety of the officers or others in the area. How anyone is ever going to be arrested after such a change is put in place was not a topic addressed by the activists. (CBS Chicago)

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.

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.”

Amazingly, Mayor Lori Lightfoot responded by saying that she’s already working on changes to foot pursuit policies for the police, though she hasn’t gone so far as to say that they will be banned. Chicago isn’t the first city to have activists pushing for this specific change either. It’s an idea that’s currently in vogue in progressive circles.

The people demanding these changes are of course summoning up the memory of Adam Toledo as justification for their demands. That seems like a remarkably tone-deaf choice if they want foot pursuits to end “when there is no serious threat of harm to the officer or others.” You’ll recall that Adam Toledo was running away from officers with a handgun in his hand. And when he stopped in that alley, he hadn’t dropped the weapon until he was already turning around to face the officers. Whether an armed suspect and known gang associate escapes into the darkness with a gun or whether he turns on an officer with it in his hands, there’s a threat to the officers or others in the community.

None of this makes any sense unless you are truly trying to simply abolish the police and declare law enforcement to be a problem rather than a solution. The police don’t engage in foot pursuits of suspects because the gym is closed at the precinct and they need the exercise. If they are chasing someone, it’s because they believe that the suspect is worth the effort to chase. If you have five overdue parking tickets and a bench warrant for failure to pay and the police see you, I would be gobsmacked if they thought it was worth the effort to actually run you down. They could just stop by your address of record on your driver’s license. But if you’re someone who is known to be running with a gang and perhaps engaging in carjackings and they see you on the street with a handgun, yes… you are going to be chased. If not, the police are criminally negligent themselves.

Lightfoot doesn’t sound like she’s gone completely off the deep end on this issue yet. She’s couched all of her remarks with cautions about not wanting criminals to think they can get away with violent activity if they’re just fast enough to outrun the cops. We won’t know what she’s planning until she rolls out the new guidelines later this month. But if it’s too closely aligned with what the protesters are demanding, I’m willing to bet that you’re going to be seeing even more cops turning in their badges and writing off the Windy City as a place that’s just impossible to police.