CHICAGO — In the last three years, Black men were targeted in Chicago Police Department search warrants 25 times more than white men, the city’s Inspector General found.
In a report released Thursday, the Office of the Inspector General found Black men were the most frequent targets of CPD search warrants between 2017 and 2020. In that three-year period, Black men were also targeted 4.6 times more than Latino men.
The city’s population is roughly equal thirds white, Latino and Black.
That’s just one of the many findings outlined in the report that looked at Chicago police search warrant policy during those three years.
The number of search warrant raids conducted by Chicago police fell sharply in 2020, correlating with the spread of coronavirus. The drop also came after the wrongful and humiliating raid on Anjanette Young’s home, though video of the raid wasn’t released publicly until December 2020.
Young, a social worker, was left naked and handcuffed for 40 minutes as 12 male police officers raided her Near West Side home in 2019, determining later they raided the wrong residence.
CBS2 made the footage public in December and Young has since sued the city.
Just 523 homes were searched in 2020 compared to 1,424 the year before, the Inspector General found.
The OIG’s report also found other shortcomings in the Chicago police raid policy. The city’s electronic tracking system for warrants, known as eTrack, does not record when police raid the wrong address, for example.
The Inspector General also found nearly one quarter of the searches logged in the police database had incomplete information about the targeted address. For instance, nearly 25 percent of search warrants for an apartment did not have an apartment number listed and several listed in the “residence” category, which is for single-family homes, had apartment numbers listed.
The report also noted that police found drugs in 75 percent of residential raids where they’d secured a warrant, and successfully located weapons in 40 percent of raids in which they had obtained a warrant for that purpose.
The wrongful raid on Young’s home was not the first time Chicago police’s raid policy has been put under a microscope. In 2018, Police Sgt. Xavier Elizondo and Officer David Salgado were charged with giving phony information to judges to obtain warrants to steal drugs and cash. Both were convicted of the charges and sent to federal prison.
A proposed ordinance co-sponsored by City Council’s Black alderwomen seeks to reform the city’s search warrant policy. Mayor Lori Lightfoot said she was “dubious” about the ordinance, named for Young, and pointed to changes the police department proposed two months ago to eliminate wrongful raids.
Those city-proposed charges, slated to start Memorial Day, would require police officials to sign off on warrants and mandate additional training for officers who carry out searches.
But the Inspector General’s report said those city-endorsed changes don’t go far enough. It points out the Chicago police system does not track key information, such as whether children were present during a raid, or whether the warrant was approved as a “no-knock” warrant.
The OIG report concluded by saying members of the public and Chicago police would be best-served by data-informed policy decisions and thoughtful consideration of the implications of policy changes for existing data collection systems and practices.
The office’s inquiry into search warrant practices is ongoing.
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