Regulating Foot Pursuits

Today the Nichols family funeralized Tyre Nichols, a father, a son, an avid skateboarder, and a Black man.  The condolences and statements will pour in from all over the world, expressing sadness, grief, and outrage that the police brutally killed another Black American.

Calls for police reform will again be at the forefront of discussions by advocacy groups and policymakers.  I have a few suggestions for addition to policing reform.

Foot Pursuits and Data

  1. Regulations for foot pursuits that parallel vehicle pursuits by law enforcement officers.  For example, when the suspect’s car is in the possession of the police, a foot pursuit should be banned unless the suspect is believed to be an imminent threat to the community. My uncle, a retired police officer, says, “Why chase?  You have their car, which means you have an address for where they will eventually show up.”  Additionally, the car will be impounded, so eventually, the owner will show up to retrieve the vehicle.  Such a policy may have prevented the death of Mr. Nichols, Mr. Scott, and Mr. Wright.
  2. The Federal Bureau of Investigation must collect data on the number of people killed by law enforcement or who die while in police custody each year.  These data should be collected by:
    • Race/ethnicity and gender such that researchers can disaggregate at the intersection of race/ethnicity and gender to identify patterns of disparities.  Note that gender allows the data to identify if the LBGTQ community at the intersection of race has different experiences.
    • Accused violation(s) and/or sentenced violation(s), and if these violations were felonies or misdemeanors because the threshold for these offenses varies by jurisdiction.
    • Jurisdiction – the specific police or sheriff’s department, as these data are public.

The Women’s Institute for Science, Equity and Race stands in solidarity with the thousands of families who have lost loved ones due to law enforcement and first responder misconduct.

Condolences to the Nichols family.