CHICAGO (CBS) — A sweeping overhaul of the Chicago Police Department’s search warrant policies will go into effect on May 28, following weeks of public comment and internal review of the changes first announced in March.
The changes come in the wake of a years-long series of reports by the CBS 2 Investigators on wrong raids.READ MORE: Chicago Weather: Frostbite Risk Within 30 Minutes Of Exposure As Wind Chills Drop Below Zero
“These critical revisions to CPD’s search warrant policies and procedures come at a pivotal moment in our journey as we work to bring about true police reform,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced in a statement Friday afternoon. “Furthermore, they are just one of many reforms that CPD has and will continue to make in order to ensure that accountability, transparency, and human dignity are the guiding principles of policing here in Chicago.”
The mayor and Chicago Police Supt. David Brown first announced the search warrant policy changes in March, before opening up a public comment period on the new policy, followed by an internal review process.
You can review the new policy here.
CPD is making changes in three areas; involving what happens before, during, and after a search warrant is executed.
For the first time, Chicago Police will begin tracking wrong raids that result from faulty information, such as the raid on Anjanette Young‘s home two years ago, when she was handcuffed naked and afraid in a high-profile and violent botched police raid.
It’s something CBS 2 has been pushing the city to do for two years, and a key accountability measure.
When she first announced the changes in March, Lightfoot called what happened to Young “a clarion call for us to look at what happened, and what we needed to do to make sure that the circumstances that Ms. Young endured were never repeated again.”
It’s the second time in as many years the Lightfoot administration is announcing an overhaul of search warrant procedures in an effort to put a stop to wrong raids. The changes include expanding the department’s efforts to track wrong raids.
The mayor announced her first search warrant and raid reforms in January 2020, but CBS 2 Investigator Dave Savini has reported instances when officers did not follow the policy and bad raids continued to happen after that.
Last year’s change to the search warrant policy required the creation of a log if a raid is carried out at an address different than what is listed on the search warrant. But that doesn’t account for the dozens of wrong raids CBS 2 found, including the one on Young’s home.
That policy did not require a log when officers enter the address listed on the warrant, but learn the information used to obtain the warrant was faulty.
The department now must create a log number for such wrong raids, and CPD now also will be required to carry out a critical incident after-action review after any wrong raid; including a review of the search warrant documentation, and any recorded evidence including body camera footage. Results of those reviews must be submitted to the superintendent for a secondary review.
The superintendent would then have to determine if any changes are needed to CPD policies, tactics, equipment, or training. The superintendent also must arrange for an annual evaluation of all reviews of wrong raids.
“As police officers we need to be the first to admit our mistakes and what we can do to make sure we can learn from those mistakes. This new path is a direct reflection of lessons learned,” Brown said in March.
So-called “no-knock” warrants also will be banned “except in specific cases where lives or safety are in danger,” and must be approved by a bureau chief or higher, and will only be served by SWAT teams, rather than the officers who obtained the warrant.
All other search warrants will now have to be approved by a deputy chief or higher. That’s a huge move, because that’s three ranks above the previous requirement of a lieutenant approval.
Any officer serving a search warrant also must be assigned and activate a functioning body-worn camera during the raid. Most officers are already required to wear them while executing search warrants, but often fail to activate them.
During any raid, a female officer will now have to be present for the serving of all search warrants. A lieutenant or higher must be there to oversee the scene. And, in line with a previous policy, officers will also have to make note of any situation where they point a gun at any person.
All warrants also will require an independent investigation before approval and execution to corroborate the information used to obtain the warrant. Such reviews were required under the previous policy, but the CBS 2 Investigators found officers frequently violated those rules.
Before any search warrant is carried out, the team serving the warrant must conduct a planning session to “identify any potentially vulnerable people who may be present at the location in question, including children.”
Despite these changes, there are still many questions.
For example, one thing the new policy does not address is what disciplinary action officers would face if they don’t follow the rules.
For example, the CBS 2 Investigators have reported on officers executing a standard knock-and-announce warrant who quickly barge in after knocking, without giving anyone time to get to the door.
And officers in our investigations of wrong raids didn’t hand over the warrant to the people living in the house until, in some cases, hours later.
CBS 2 Investigator Dave Savini has asked the mayor about that in March.
“Well, that shouldn’t be happening, and now because there’s a requirement that everything related to a search warrant, a body worn camera has to be present and activated, when we see that happening that’s going to be a problem not only for those officers, but we will make sure that that is corrected on a systemic basis,” Lightfoot said.
The CBS 2 Investigators were the first to expose how not all cops on raids were required to wear body cameras before a 2020 policy change requiring at least two body cameras are activated during the execution of a search warrant, from start to finish.READ MORE: Chicago Weather: Wind Chill Advisory In Effect Wednesday Morning
However, the mayor did not address how discipline would be incorporated in the new policies. None of the officers involved in wrong raids CBS 2 has uncovered have been disciplined, besides the officers in Young’s case who have been taken off the street amid an investigation by the Civilian Office of Police Accountability.
Last month, COPA wrapped up its investigation of the raid on Young’s home, saying the probe produced nearly 100 allegations of misconduct against more than a dozen officers who took part in the raid.
Young has become the face of a troubling pattern of wrong raids uncovered as part of a years-long CBS 2 investigation. She is among dozens of people of color who CBS 2 Investigator Dave Savini found were victims of wrong raids, after officers failed to do basic investigative work to check bad tips from confidential informants.
The agency has forwarded its findings and recommendations to Chicago Police Supt. David Brown, who will review the COPA recommendations before determining whether the department will seek any disciplinary action against any of the officers.
A full report on COPA’s investigation — including its findings and recommendations regarding officer misconduct — will be posted on its website after Brown reviews the report, and officers have been served with disciplinary charges.
In addition to the probe by COPA, the raid of Young’s home has prompted multiple other investigations.
Inspector General Joseph Ferguson’s office in January confirmed it investigating “possible misconduct” by city officials, including Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s office, for how they handled the botched raid on Young’s home, as well as the aftermath.
As a result of CBS 2 Investigators search warrant series, Chicago’s Inspector General, in July 2019, launched a full audit of the Chicago Police Department’s search warrant policies and procedures. That audit is ongoing.
Meantime, last December, Lightfoot enlisted retired federal judge Ann Claire Williams, now with Jones Day law firm, to conduct an investigation of the raid of Young’s home.
In February, Ferguson’s office made a series of “urgent recommendations” for changes to CPD’s search warrant policies as part of the inspector general’s ongoing audit.
Among other changes, that report recommended CPD require verification and corroboration of all information used to obtain a search warrant before conducting raids, and to expand its search warrant policy to require the tracking of wrong raids that are the result of using faulty information. The report also noted Brown accepted those recommendations and promised to make changes.
Ferguson’s office has said it supports the policy changes announced by CPD, and is continuing its investigation into possible misconduct in connection with the raid on Young’s home.
Lightfoot and Brown have said they do not have any concern that the new changes would make officers hesitant when carrying out raids, or put them in danger when executing search warrants.
In March, Brown said the changes are rooted in ensuring that people are treated with dignity and respect when police execute search warrants at their homes.
“Following these policies and procedures with an emphasis on everyone deserves a measure of respect actually enhances our ability to do our job and creates an environment of trust in the community,” he said. “If Ms. Young was the biggest drug kingpin, we still should have treated her with dignity and respect. That’s should be clear to everyone that her dignity and respect had nothing to do with whether or not she was actually the focus of this, or this was a mistake and this was the wrong house. She still deserved a measure of respect, and that does not get in the way of us doing our job, without question.”
Lightfoot said no office should ever hesitate to do his or her job because they are subject to scrutiny by a supervisor.
“If that is the case, then it’s probably a search warrant that never should be executed in the first instance,” Lightfoot said at the time.
Young’s attorney, Keenan Saulter, has said the mayor’s plan “falls woefully short of the types of reforms that citizens of Chicago require to feel secure in their homes from these violent and often wrongful raids.”
Saulter said, if Lightfoot and Brown want real changes at CPD, they should support a massive reform proposal backed by a group of progressive City Council members, dubbed the Anjanette Young Ordinance.
“It targets the heart of CPD’s unethical and violent search warrant practices, by implementing a series of common-sense changes that will have the immediate effect of preventing harm to Chicago families and police officers alike,” Saulter said in a statement.
As CBS 2’s Chris Tye reported, the proposed Anjanette Young Ordinance is what some city leaders call nothing short of a full-court press to dismantle systemic racism in the city of Chicago – with a reengineering of what comes before, during, and after every CPD raid.
“When the 12 police officers barreled into [Anjanette Young’s] home unannounced with a battering ram, it was the last straw in a long history of police misconduct,” said Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th).
That last straw has given birth to first-of-its-kind legislation.
The Anjanette Young Ordinance was formally introduced to the City Council in February, but has yet to get a hearing. If passed, it would reform what happens before, during and after moments like the wrong raid on Young’s home two years ago this week, which was first exposed by CBS 2 Investigator Dave Savini.
“Not only helps me, but helps future, you know, people who may have experiences with this police department,” Young said last week.
The ordinance is sweeping. It calls for all raids to include a knock, an announcement, and no less than 30 seconds’ wait to break down a door.
It also calls for residential search warrants to be limited between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. And any informants that provide bad tips can’t be used again.MORE NEWS: Chicago Weather: Wind Chill Advisory In Effect, Wind Chills Dropping Well Below Zero
The ordinance further calls for body cameras to roll for the entire raid, and for police to limit raids when children and vulnerable people aren’t there – and special plans if they are.