Lightfoot, 3/3

Mayor Lori Lightfoot, March 3

Mayor Lori Lightfoot and police Superintendent David Brown are suggesting policy changes to search warrants in Chicago, proposing that all search warrants must be approved by a deputy chief or higher, and "no-knock" warrants largely be banned. 

Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th), however, said in response that any changes to warrants in Chicago need to be codified by law and that she is standing by her Anjanette Young Ordinance, introduced in late February with the other Black female members of the City Council Progressive Reform Caucus

As it stands, Chicago Police Department lieutenants approve warrants; deputy chiefs are three ranks above them. Under Lightfoot's proposed rule change, bureau chiefs or higher would have to approve no-knock warrants, which could only be served by SWAT teams. 

Before executing search warrants, police teams would be required to identify any potentially vulnerable people who may be present at the site, including children, and all warrants would require independent investigations to verify that the information used to obtain the warrant is accurate. 

No-knock warrants would also be banned unless lives or safety were in danger. 

Complaint log numbers would be required for submitting false reports for wrong raids, if the search warrant was served at the wrong address or in which information used to obtain the warrant was false, and the CPD would conduct review for all wrong raids.

Public comment is open for 15 days on the CPD website.

At a City Hall press conference announcing the proposed policy changes, Lightfoot acknowledged that the botched 2019 police raid on Young's house had struck a chord with Black and Brown people in Chicago and beyond.

"That moment served as an abrupt but appropriate wake-up call to our entire city," she said. "And even though that February 2019 raid occurred before I was mayor and before Superintendent Brown was in charge of the Chicago Police Department, we have owned and we have a responsibility to make right what was wrong."

A female officer will be present during raids under the proposed policy. Brown said officers will get training on human rights and how to preserve people's "dignity." But he said that no-knock warrants have a time and place in the police wheelhouse: officers, he said, need to enter a site immediately if someone is being murdered, or if they hear cries or screams inside.

The Anjanette Young Ordinance, co-sponsored by Alds. Sophia King (4th) and Jeanette Taylor (20th), would mandate that officers "use tactics that are the least intrusive to people's home, property and person and least harmful to people's physical and emotional health" and that the police department record and publicize data about each residential warrant executed, including the officers involved. It would also outright ban no-knock warrants in Chicago.

Ald. Hairston, in an interview, said she is standing by the ordinance, adding that she does not see the necessity of Lightfoot proposing policy changes "when we already have something that is pretty thorough."

"We need to codify it," Hairston said. "This is not a competition. We are actually trying to do meaningful reform here that lasts. Executive power is only as good as that executive. And if it still doesn't go far enough, then it's a problem. And it's a problem in police reform."

At the press conference, West Side Ald. Chris Taliaferro (29th), who chairs the Public Safety Committee to which the Anjanette Young Ordinance has been assigned, declined to say whether or not he would have a hearing on it.

Keenan J. Saulter, Young's attorney, encouraged the mayor and Brown to support the progressive caucus' ordinance, alleging that the CPD has a documented pattern of illegal, violent, and dehumanizing raids that have traumatized thousands of Black and Brown families" and "failed to hold a single officer to account" and that "officers routinely break down doors and charge into people’s homes with their guns drawn, causing families to believe that they are being robbed." 

He noted that the Anjanette Young Ordinance would expressly forbid police from pointing guns at children. 

"Nearly 3,000 of CPD’s approximately 6,800 home raids between 2016 and 2019 failed to result in a single arrest," he said. "What’s more, CPD fails to even track or document when a wrong raid has taken place, thereby allowing officers to continue this practice and protecting these grave violations from being brought to light."

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