(CBS) — A year-long CBS 2 investigation into children traumatized by Chicago police wrongly raiding their homes has led to a new law just signed by Governor JB Pritzker.
Peter Mendez was nine years old when he became the first child to speak out about officers bursting into his family home, pointing guns at him and leaving him traumatized.
CBS 2 Investigator Dave Savini spent a year exposing similar cases involving 23 other children.
As a result of this investigation, State Sen. Jacqueline Collins introduced the Peter Mendez Act, signed into law Friday, requiring police officer training to understand the trauma children experience during police action and de-escalation training too.
“I think it’s blatant disrespect and disregard for the emotional well being of our children,” Collins said.
“It is like a dream come true,” said Mendez as hes at on the steps family’s Brighton Park neighborhood home. “I’m just surprised. I don’t know what to say. I’m speechless.”
Just one year ago it was a very different story for Peter, who, along with his family, revealed the details about the night Chicago police broke down their doors and pointed an assault rifle at him and his younger brother Jack and then handcuffed his father Peter Mendez on the floor of the family’s kitchen.
It was the wrong home, and their case prompted CBS 2’s year-long investigation into police repeatedly raiding wrong homes , cuffing innocent people and traumatizing families, especially children.
Mendez, like several other children in these cases, is dealing anxiety and nightmares and has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.
“We cant have this,” said Mayor Lori Lightfoot when in June she reacted to CBS 2’s findings. She wants wrong raids and mistreatment of children to stop. “So we’re going to dig down, look at these specific incidents, see what we can learn from them and try to, as best we can, not to repeat those kinds of mistakes.”
The City of Chicago’s inspector general, Joe Ferguson, launched a full scale probe into the methods Chicago Police are using to obtain and execute search warrants. The officers who raided the Mendez home are being investigated by COPA. That action, along with the new Peter Mendez Act, gives Peter hope for change.
“Every single one of these raid situations is a form of imposition of trauma by the government on citizens of the city,” said Ferguson.
And Mayor Lori Lightfoot has called for major reforms.
“There is going to be justice for the community and everybody who has ever felt wrong raids,” said Peter Mendez.
Despite a year of repeated requests – the Chicago Police Department continues to refuse to turn over records related to wrong raids and has refused to turn over key body camera videos.