CPD criticized for calling off chase of armed robbery suspects during crime spree

Liz Nagy Image
Thursday, August 17, 2023
CPD criticized for calling off chase of armed robbery suspects during crime spree
Chicago police are facing criticism for calling off the police pursuit of four armed robbery suspects in the middle of a crime spree early Wednesday.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Chicago police are facing questions after a police chase of an armed robbery crew was called off during a crime spree and before the suspects were caught.

Officers spotted the robbery crew in the act Wednesday, and were pursuing them down Western Avenue on the Northwest Side when the officers were ordered to terminate the chase.

911 dispatchers were alerted to an armed robbery just off Western Avenue around 2:30 a.m. Wednesday. Police said the crew of heavily armed, masked men with "long guns" had already robbed a couple walking along Ashland Avenue just north of Fullerton by the time that call come in, and had sped off northbound.

Police radio communications indicate that officers began pursuing the SUV they said fit the description of other armed robberies.

"Squad, be aware. They've got long guns," an officer can be heard saying in those radio communications.

Officers and dispatchers communicated as officers followed the Dodge Durango south on Western Avenue until they got an order.

"Terminate the chase," the radio communications say. "Alright, guys, they want you guys to terminate. We've got four male Blacks inside of that gray Durango. Faces covered up, carrying long rifles."

The Chicago Police Department's written policy says every pursuit must meet a balancing test: "The necessity to immediately apprehend the fleeing suspect outweighs the level of inherent danger created by a motor vehicle pursuit."

But "the department will not discipline any member for terminating a motor vehicle pursuit."

"A supervisor is also going to be weighing that same, weighing those things in his own mind," said Sharon Fairley, who used to oversee independent reviews of CPD incidents as the former head of the Civilian Office of Police Accountability. "So you have two people really thinking about this. And it's because of the inherent danger for the community and for the officers that these pursuits represent."

"You now have criminals who are well aware of this," said Alderman Brian Hopkins. "You have criminals who are well aware of this and they're much more willing to flee from police officers than they've been before because they know there will be no consequences."

Police believe the same suspects robbed people at least four separate times Wednesday morning, including twice after supervisors called off the pursuit.

Chicago police say no one is in custody for any of the armed robberies reported Wednesday morning.

ABC7 asked police for a response on the pursuit and reached out to the Fraternal Order of Police, but did not hear back from either.