Mayor, Chicago police announce revised search warrant policy

Chicago News

CHICAGO — Mayor Lightfoot and Chicago police announced the city’s revised search warrant policy Friday following the highly-publicized wrong raid of Anjanette Young in February 2019.

Among the highlights, the city is attempting to limit no-knock warrants by having them personally reviewed and signed off by a bureau chief.

Additionally, search warrants will only be served by SWAT officers and only in situations in “which there is responsible suspicion that knocking or announcing would be dangerous to the life or safety of the officers serving the warrant or another person.”

Starting now, a female department member must be present during a search warrant and a supervisor with the rank of lieutenant or above also must be there.

The changes come after some revisions were made in January 2020. However, aldermen and activists have been calling for a search warrant overhaul after the story of Anjanette Young’s wrong raid came to light last year. On the night of February 21, 2019, Young was forced to stand naked for over 40 minutes as 12 Chicago police officers wrongly raided her home.

“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,” said Mayor Lightfoot. “Furthermore, they are just one of many reforms that CPD has and will continue to make in order to ensure that
accountability, transparency, and human dignity are the guiding principles of policing here in
Chicago.”

The mayor initially denied her office knowing anything about the incident, but later recanted; saying she was actually alerted about the case with a few details last year.

Chicago police released the following details regarding the revised policy.

Prior to service of a search warrant:

  • Enhancing internal coordination and supervision over executions of search warrants, including requiring high-ranking supervisors of deputy chief or above to review all search warrants for real property or locations where occupants could be present.
  • Requiring an independent investigation to verify and corroborate information used to develop a search warrant prior to approval.
  • Requiring a pre-service planning session with search warrant team members identifying potential occupants of the service location, paying attention to potentially vulnerable individuals (including children, elderly, persons with disabilities and individuals with limited English proficiency).
  • Limiting no-knock search warrants, which will only be served by SWAT, only to situations in which there is a reasonable suspicion that knocking and announcing would be dangerous to the life or safety of the officers serving the warrant or another person. No-knock search warrants must also be personally reviewed and approved by a bureau chief.

During service of a search warrant:

  • Having a lieutenant or above on-scene when serving a search warrant.
  • Ensuring each participating member serving a search warrant is assigned a functioning bodyworn camera and utilized in accordance with the Department’s body-worn camera policy.
  • Requiring a sworn female Department member to be present during the service of search warrants.

Following service of a search warrant:

  • Requiring a Department supervisor to generate a log number when being notified of, or becoming aware of any wrong raid or alleged, suspected or apparent violation of the Department’s rules and regulations, directives or orders by any sworn or civilian Department member.
  • Defining a wrong raid as a search warrant that is served at a location that is different than the location listed on the search warrant or an incident where a Department member 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.
  • Ensuring the presence of children during search warrant service is documented in post-service records.
  • Conducting after-action reviews of wrongfully served search warrants, which will include a review of the search warrant documentation and relevant recorded evidence. The Superintendent will arrange for an annual evaluation of all after-action reviews that have been conducted.

To view the full revised policy, click here.

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