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Chicago Police Had Inaccurate Data About Foot Chases — And Missed Deadline For Reforming Chase Policy, Monitor Says

The Police Department missed a consent decree deadline for updating its problematic foot chase policy — just months after an officer shot and killed 13-year-old Adam Toledo after a short chase.

A Chicago Police officer stands outside Chicago Police Department Headquarters on Aug. 13, 2021.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
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CHICAGO — The Police Department missed a deadline for updating its problematic foot chase policy — and hasn’t answered questions about faulty chase data, according to a watchdog.

The independent monitor of the Police Department, which is helping police enact reforms to meet the consent decree, released its most recent report Friday. It highlighted a number of issues in the department, which has repeatedly failed to meet deadlines for enacting reforms.

In all, the city and its Police Department met just 26 of the agreed-upon 51 deadlines — or just about half — for this most recent reporting period.

“To do their job of protecting the public, [the Police Department] must win back the trust of communities across the city, especially Black and Brown neighborhoods,” the American Civil Liberties Union’s Illinois branch said in a satement. “Yet, once again, the monitor makes clear that CPD is not meaningfully engaging the public, missing the opportunity to solicit ideas and real life experiences for policies and approaches to combating violence.

“This report should serve as a wake-up call for the city and lead to less rhetoric about doing better and, instead, spur the city to get to work.”

High among the concerns: The Police Department missed a Sept. 3 deadline for adopting a new foot chase policy.

That failure comes just months after a controversial case where an officer chased Adam Toledo, a 13-year-old boy, and then fatally shot Toledo in Little Village. Two days later, another officer fatally shot Anthony Alvarez, 22, during a chase in Portage Park.

The department’s foot chase policy has long been criticized, with the feds in 2017 saying it was a major concern — but those cases, and especially the slaying of Toledo, brought on more scrutiny. The monitoring team formally recommended in March that the department adopt a foot chase policy.

The team wasn’t alone in its criticism: Mayor Lori Lightfoot said multiple times in April the department’s foot chase policy needed to be changed, saying it was “dangerous,” but she did not offer specific revisions.

The city’s original deadline for changing the foot chase policy was July 1, but that was extended until September due to the pandemic.

A temporary, updated policy was released in May, but it still widely allows officers to run after people. It’s been criticized by activists who say the temporary policy didn’t fix glaring issues with foot chases.

The independent monitor group was regularly meeting with the city and Police Department to create a final policy on police chases — but then the Police Department told them its foot pursuit dashboard had data that was “likely inaccurate” and it disabled the dashboard, according to the report.

The group repeatedly asked the city and Police Department to explain what was wrong with the data and if it had been corrected or if efforts were being made to correct it — but the police and city didn’t provide full answers, according to the report.

“To date, we still do not have many of these answers, and have only received partial explanations regarding the scope of the data issues and plans ahead,” according to the report. At another point, it noted, “It is also likely that these data issues will not be resolved soon.”

The city then failed to meet the Sept. 3 deadline for a new foot pursuit policy that would satisfy the concerns from the independent monitors and the Office of the Attorney General, according to the report.

“It is our hope that the CPD works quickly to finalize a revised version of the foot pursuit policy that incorporate the consent decree’s requirements, best practices and feedback from officers and Chicago’s communities,” according to the report.

The independent monitoring team also reported being concerned that the Police Department’s Strategic Initiatives Division is understaffed — especially as it is “crucial to the city’s and the CPD’s successful reform endeavors.”

The division handles data and analytics for the department, but its highest-ranking data scientist left in January and has not yet been replaced, according to the report.

The report also noted some improvements: The city is providing more records to independent monitors — though they’re sending a “significant portion … near the end of the reporting period.” Of the records the city sent to the independent monitor during the most recent period, 30 percent were sent during the last month of the period.

This limits the group’s ability to fully review the records and ensure the Police Department is complying with the consent decree, according to the report.

“While there has been progress in the CPD’s reform efforts, we know there’s more to do,” Lightfoot and Brown said in a joint statement. “The city and CPD remain committed to fulfilling not only the requirements delineated by the consent decree but will go above and beyond what is outlined to Create transformative and lasting reform within the Department.

“The consent decree is meant to serve as the floor, not the ceiling, for Chicago’s police journey to true reform.”

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