Mayor Lori Lightfoot unveiled a series of proposed changes to the city’s search warrant policies amid ongoing pressure from City Council members to implement police reforms in the wake of the wrongful raid on Anjanette Young’s home.
The measures outlined by Lightfoot stop short of stricter rules proposed by aldermen and in some cases reflect basic steps such as reviewing mistakes after the fact to find out what went wrong.
Under Lightfoot’s proposed new policies, all search warrants need to be approved by a deputy chief or higher. The current standard calls for a lieutenant’s approval. All “no-knock” warrants will be banned from use except when there’s a safety threat, which the police department previously said already was its practice. These warrants will need to be approved by a bureau chief or higher and executed by SWAT, officials said.
Cops also will be required to perform a planning session before serving a search warrant, and an independent investigation of the raid will be conducted to make sure the information used to obtain the warrant was accurate.
A female officer must be present for the search and a lieutenant or higher must be there as well, Lightfoot said.
The city also will conduct an after-action review any time the city performs a wrong raid, Lightfoot said.
The measure doesn’t go as far as a plan proposed by aldermen last month with Young’s support. That ordinance would prohibit officers from pointing guns at kids or handcuffing them, or doing so to relatives while kids are present.
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Chicago police Superintendent David Brown said Wednesday the search warrant policy will be posted as a draft on CPD’s website for the public to weigh in on it over a 15-day period before a final policy is implemented.
“It’s always the right time to do the right thing,” Brown said, noting the department had previously revised its search warrant policy in January 2020. “We should always be evolving to improve our policy’s training and accountability.”
Since December, Lightfoot’s been forced to confront the fallout from an errant February 2019 police raid at Young’s home, during which she was handcuffed naked by officers who had wrongly entered her residence. Lightfoot’s Law Department worked to keep the video under wraps before WBBM-Ch. 2 published the video last year.
Lightfoot’s administration filed an emergency order to prohibit the publication, which she later said she didn’t know about.
Lightfoot initially said she only learned about the video when CBS aired police body camera footage that showed Young repeatedly telling officers who barged into her home that they had the wrong place. But the mayor later acknowledged she had received a November 2019 email about the “pretty bad wrongful raid” that was explicit about the details.
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