CHICAGO — Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Police Supt. David Brown announced “sweeping” changes to the Police Department’s search warrant policies Wednesday.
The changes — which have not yet been put into practice — would ban no-knock raids in most instances, require female officers be present at all executions of search warrants and would require officers to document all wrongful raids.
The proposed changes are online and will be available for public review for 15 days. Once the comment period is done, the Police Department will review the comments and decide if any concerns need to be addressed through further revisions.
Officials hope to implement the changes before the end of March.
The proposed changes mirror some of those proposed by a group of Black alderwomen in late February in response to the wrongful raid of Anjanette Young’s home.
Young, a social worker, had her home raided by 12 male officers based on a trip from a confidential informant. Young was handcuffed while naked for 40 minutes as she pleaded with officers and told them 43 times she was innocent and they were at the wrong home. She did not match the description of the person being sought by police.
CBS2 released footage of that raid in December and it gained national attention. Lightfoot and Brown promised to reform the warrant process.
“We all now know and saw the police raid at the home of Ms. Anjanette Young, whose personal dignity was abused and violated when a search warrant was executed at her home, which happened to be the exact wrong address,” Lightfoot said at a news conference.
If accepted, here’s the changes that would be made:
Before a search warrant is executed:
- All search warrants must now be approved by a deputy chief or someone in a higher position. Before, they only needed a lieutenant’s approval.
- No-knock warrants are banned except in “specific cases where lives or safety are in danger.”
- No-knock warrants will now need approval from a bureau chief or higher and will only be served by SWAT.
- The team that will serve a warrant will be required to conduct a planning session where members must identify potentially vulnerable people, including children, who may be at the location being searched.
- All raids now require an independent investigation prior to being approved and executed to verify the information used to obtain the warrant is correct.
During the execution of search warrants:
- A female officer is now required to be present during the serving of all search warrants.
- A lieutenant or someone in a higher-ranking position must be present during the serving of search warrants.
- Officers must document any instance in which a gun is pointed at a person.
After a search warrant is executed:
- Any search warrant served at the wrong address or where the information used to obtain the warrant turns out to be false will be considered a wrongful raid.
- A complaint log number will be required for submitting false reports or for all wrong raids.
- Police will conduct a critical incident after-action review for all wrong raids.
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