By Samah Assad, Dave Savini, Michele Youngerman
CHICAGO (CBS) — Key reforms could change the way Chicago Police execute search warrants, but it’s still unclear how officers will be held accountable if they violate the rules.READ MORE: Many Who Filed Federal Tax Returns On Time Or Early Still Don't Have Refunds -- What's The Holdup?
City officials proposed changes to CPD’s search warrant policy Wednesday as a result of CBS 2’s years-long investigation that uncovered Fourth Amendment violations – a pattern of wrong raids by CPD that disproportionately affect Black and Brown communities.
The proposed changes include significant steps toward accountability with how officers obtain, execute and document search warrants. Among the changes are additional supervision and tracking when officers raid the wrong home based on bad information – something officials previously wouldn’t commit to doing.
However, the city’s announcement and news release failed to detail how officers would be disciplined if they don’t follow the policy. CBS 2 has exposed more than a dozen bad raids since 2018, but none of the officers involved have been disciplined for violating policies related to obtaining and executing search warrants.
This includes officers repeatedly failing to independently verify tips from confidential informants to make sure the information and home address was correct.
CBS 2 also identified instances where officers did not properly use or wear their body cameras during the execution of warrants. For incidents where video does not exist, it could have served as key evidence. Many families CBS 2 interviewed accused police of pointing guns at innocent children during wrong raids.
In incidents where video does exist, like in the case of Anjanette Young, it showed the public the truth about what happened. In one wrong raid, an officer can be heard acknowledging police are in the wrong place, but they continued to search the home anyway. In another case, officers could be seen on body camera video pointing guns at children and interrogating them.
The only action taken by city officials in the wrong raids CBS 2 uncovered involved the officers in Young’s raid. They were taken off the streets pending an investigation by the Civilian Office of Police Accountability – only after CBS 2 aired the body camera video and nearly two years after the incident.
While some of the raids happened before Mayor Lori Lightfoot took office, CBS 2 identified two wrong raids that happened during her time as mayor where officers violated previous rules.
“So when something like that happens…then there’s going to be accountability,” Lightfoot said Wednesday during a news conference. “That’s why we have policies, and we hold people accountable to those policies.”READ MORE: Mayor Lori Lightfoot Confirms Tentative Agreement On New 8-Year Police Contract With Chicago FOP
But it’s unclear if the officers in those raids have been disciplined either. When pushed for specifics on what accountability will look like moving forward and how it will be written into the new policy, both Lightfoot and Supt. David Brown sidestepped questions Wednesday.
CBS 2 Investigator Dave Savini asked Lightfoot how officers in previous wrong raids will be held accountable, but she did not provide specifics.
“I believe – I don’t know specifics – but if that has been brought to our attention, they’re under investigation,” Lightfoot said.
She also criticized the Chicago Inspector General (IG) Joe Ferguson, who opened an investigation into how CPD handles search warrants in 2019.
“I don’t have any patience for people dragging their feet on investigations that need to get done,” she said. “The inspector general went out publicly, in your publication, and said in July of  that he was doing a top to bottom evaluation of wrong raids, in July of . We haven’t heard a peep from the inspector general on this issue. Where’s he been?”
But the city and police can discipline officers without the results of an IG investigation. In addition, in January, the IG did recommend reforms to CPD as part of its ongoing inquiry, including the creation of a system to track wrong raids, which Brown agreed to.
A statement from an IG spokesperson reiterated those recommendations and said the IG continues to investigate possible misconduct related to how officials handled the raid on Young’s home:
“As the Mayor noted, OIG’s Public Safety section launched a largescale, programmatic inquiry into CPD’s search warrant practices in 2019. In recognition of the urgency of the issues and to prevent further serious harm to Chicagoans as that inquiry continues, we issued interim findings and recommendations in December of last year. Specifically, we recommended that CPD modify its directive on search warrants to require verification and corroboration of information in all circumstances and broaden the circumstances in which supervisors must initiate an investigation to determine whether discipline is necessary and appropriate when a search warrant is erroneous in fact or execution. We published those recommendations in January, along with Superintendent Brown’s response, in which he accepted them. We are heartened to see that the policy changes announced this morning reflect the adoption of our recommendations. In the meantime, the disciplinary investigation being conducted by OIG’s Investigations section into possible misconduct by City employees and officials in connection with the raid on Anjanette Young’s home specifically, which we undertook in December, continues.”
Brown also did not provide answers about disciplining officers when pressed Wednesday.
“So right now, we’re looking at any and all complaints that were presented to us,” Brown said. “If some had been presented, I would encourage those that have complaints about search warrants that you’ve covered to come forward so that we can open up investigations and take the appropriate accountability actions. If you have something, you can do it on their behalf and we’ll look at it, reach out to those victims of this and make sure we conduct an investigation.”MORE NEWS: After Unwittingly Buying Expensive 'Gray Market' Camera That's Now Broken, Couple Left With '$800 Paperweight'
The city and police are already aware of the wrong raid victims CBS 2 uncovered, as they have all filed lawsuits against the city.