CHICAGO (CBS) — After Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced a change in search warrant policies for Chicago Police Wednesday morning, the attorney representing Anjanette Young said the plan does not go far enough.
Two years ago, Young was handcuffed naked and afraid in a high-profile and violent botched police raid at her home.
Last week, a group of progressive City Council members announced massive reform proposals for police search warrant policies, dubbed the Anjanette Young Ordinance. But Mayor Lightfoot then said she was getting ready to issue her own reform proposals – which she did on Wednesday.
For the first time, Chicago Police will begin tracking wrong raids that result from faulty information. Meanwhile under the mayor’s proposal, “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.
Further, all other search warrants will now have to be approved by a deputy chief or higher, and 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. And 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.”
Young’s attorney, Keenan Saulter, said the mayor’s proposal “falls woefully short of the types of reforms that the citizens of Chicago require to feel secure in their homes from these violent and often wrongful raids.”
He instead endorsed the Anjanette Young Ordinance the City Council members have drafted. It was proposed last week by Ald. Sophia King (4th), Leslie Hairston (5th), Stephanie Coleman (16th), Jeanette Taylor (20th), and Maria Hadden (49th).
You can read the full proposed ordinance here:
Saulter noted that the ordinance would ban not only “no-knock” warrants, but also “knock and announce” warrants, which he wrote “do not give family members enough time to answer the door in a dignified manner, and can lead to violence and even death, as demonstrated by the police killing of Breonna Taylor in Louisville.”
Specifically, the ordinance calls for all raids to include a knock, an announcement, and no less than 30 seconds’ wait to break down a door.
The ordinance, Saulter wrote, also requires officers to corroborate tips from informants and avoid raiding homes when children are present, and require that police use the “least intrusive method” when executing warrants. The ordinance further forbids police from pointing guns at children, and holds police responsible repairing any damage they cause to homes – as well as requiring them to secure homes when they leave.
The ordinance further calls for body cameras to roll for the entire raid.
It first heads to City Council Public Safety committee for review.
As to the mayor’s proposal, Saulter wrote that it is insufficient because what happened to Young is “not an anomaly.”
“As CBS 2 has highlighted in its award-winning investigative series, it is just one egregious example of a documented pattern of illegal, violent, and dehumanizing raids that have traumatized thousands of Black and Brown families, for which CPD has failed to hold a single officer to account,” he wrote.
Saulter wrote that officers “routinely break down doors and charge into people’s homes with their guns drawn, causing families to believe that they are being robbed. They point assault rifles directly at young children and their parents; they handcuff children in front of their parents, and parents in front of their children; they subject family members to excessive force and verbal abuse; and they treat families with a basic lack of respect for their humanity, including detaining people like Ms. Young naked or near naked in front of intruding strangers without giving them the opportunity to put on clothes.”
Further, Saulter wrote, police destroy people’s personal items and break down doors and locks during raids – leaving them vulnerable to violence and theft.
Saulter further emphasized data CBS 2 has obtained showing that wrong raids happen almost exclusively in Black and Brown neighborhoods, and that officers who participate in the raids are not disciplined.
Zoom in and click on the points in the maps below to explore which neighborhoods police served the most negative search warrants. Size indicates amount of warrants. Color indicates percent Black or Latino populations.
“Nearly 3,000 of CPD’s approximately 6,800 home raids between 2016 and 2019 failed to result in a single arrest,” Saulter wrote. “What’s more, CPD fails to even track or document when a wrong raid has taken place, thereby allowing officers to continue this practice and protecting these grave violations from being brought to light.”
CBS 2 Investigator Dave Savini has been exposing the issue of wrong raids for years, and he also had questions for Mayor Lightfoot about her proposal Wednesday.
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.
“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.
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 pending an investigation by the Civilian Office of Police Accountability.
The policy changes announced today have been posted on the CPD website and will be subject to public comment for the next 15 days. After that public comment period, CPD will review any comments and decide if any public concerns require further review or further changes to policy.