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No-Knock Warrants Still Allowed Under New CPD Search Policy, Police Department Says — But Only In ‘Dangerous’ Situations

The reforms were first proposed in March after video of a 2019, wrong-address raid on Anjanette Young’s home was made public — despite city attempts to block the video's release.

An attendee at Monday's rally for police accountability holds a sign reading "Protect Black Women - Justice for Anjanette Young."
Maxwell Evans/Block Club Chicago

CHICAGO —The Chicago Police Department will not eliminate the use of controversial no-knock warrants under new search warrant revisions announced Friday, but the practice will be limited and only conducted by a specialized unit of officers.

Only in instances the department believes there is “reasonable suspicion that knocking and announcing would be dangerous to the life or safety of the officers serving the warrant or another person,” will no-knock warrants be permitted, the Chicago Police Department announced Friday afternoon.

No-knock warrants must be approved by high-ranking officers, bureau chiefs or above, and only SWAT members may serve the warrants, under new search warrant policies, which also requires a female officer to be present for all executed search warrants.

Before obtaining any search warrant, an independent investigation must be conducted “to verify and corroborate information used to develop a search warrant prior to approval” and all officers involved in conducting a search warrant must wear a body camera.

The reforms were first proposed in March as Mayor Lori Lightfoot and the Police Department were under fire after video of a 2019 wrong raid on Anjanette Young’s home, and the city’s attempt to block footage of the raid from airing on CBS2, were made public. 

Despite being naked and not matching the description of the suspect, Young was handcuffed nude for 40 minutes as she told officers 43 times she was innocent and they were at the wrong home. Young has filed a lawsuit against the city, the Police Department and 12 officers involved in the raid.

A separate proposal, named for and supported by Young, bans no knock warrants and places stricter restrictions on search warrant policies, but has not been advanced in City Council amid opposition from Lightfoot and hesitancy from the Public Safety Committee chairman, Ald. Chris Taliaferro (29th), a former police sergeant.

Supporters of the Anjanette Young Ordinance have criticized Lightfoot’s reforms for not including strict guidelines to govern officer behavior before and during a search.

Speaking after an event on May 5, Lightfoot criticized the proposed ordinance, saying it would “inhibit the ability of the department to respond nimbly to changing circumstances that might warrant quicker action than might be able to be done through a City Council process.”

The new search warrant policies will be effective May 28, the mayor and Police Supt. David Brown announced.

“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,” Lightfoot said in a statement.

After posting the proposed policies online in March, the department received more than 800 comments that were considered as the policy was developed, the press release said.

It’s unclear how the comments were incorporated into the revised procedures.

“The revisions of this search warrant policy reflect our dedication to protecting public safety, while prioritizing and respecting the rights of the residents we serve,” Brown said. 

The department will continue to review the revised policy and they could be tweaked further, the release says.

Lightfoot previously revised search warrant policies in January 2020 and has since credited CBS2’s coverage of wrongful raids for spurring her to review search warrant procedures.

Last week, the Office of Inspector General released a report showing that Black men were targeted in search warrants 25 times more than white men over a three year period from 2017 to 2020.

The inspector general’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.

Previously, search warrant operations required the approval of a lieutenant, but now require the signoff of a “deputy chief or above.”

Afterwards, officers are now required to log so called “wrong raids,” defined in the new policy as a search warrant served at a location different than the location listed on the approved search warrant, or “an incident where an (officer) serving a search warrant encounters, identifies or should reasonably have become aware of circumstances or facts that are inconsistent with the factual basis for the probable cause documented and used to obtain the search warrant.”

Officers must record if children were present at the location during the operation and the police superintendent must annually review all wrong raids.

The provision of recording if children are present was not included when Lightfoot first proposed the reforms in March, but was suggested in the inspector general’s report.

The Anjanette Young Ordinance would ban no-knock warrants and require officers to give residents at least 30 seconds to respond after announcing themselves. 

The night officers raided Young’s home, officers were not operating on a no-knock warrant, but the video footage showed officers burst through her door just seconds after knocking. 

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