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Chicago mayor proposes search warrant changes after botched raid

CBS News logo CBS News 3/4/2021 Peter Martinez
a man holding a sign posing for the camera: lightfoot2.jpg © AP Photo/Teresa Crawford File lightfoot2.jpg

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Wednesday announced proposed changes in how police execute search warrants in light of a botched raid in 2019 when officers stormed the wrong apartment and handcuffed a naked Anjanette Young. The mayor and Police Superintendent David Brown outlined the new procedures during a press conference and subsequent news release in the hope of regaining trust and providing transparency after that high-profile mishap.

Before a search warrant is conducted, it must be approved by a deputy chief or above, three ranks higher than what was previously required, according to Lightfoot. An independent investigation must verify all the information in the search warrant, and according to the proposal, officers will have to "conduct a planning session ... to identify any potentially vulnerable people" who could be inside the residence.

The press release also said there will be a ban on all "no-knock" warrants "unless there's danger to life or safety." A lieutenant must now be on the scene while a search is executed, and a female officer must also be present, according to the proposal.

This is the second round of changes to the city's search warrant procedures under Lightfoot's administration, CBS Chicago reported. The February 2019 wrongful raid on Young's home drew national headlines because officers didn't allow her to dress before handcuffing her for several minutes. In video footage from police bodycams, first aired by CBS Chicago, Young repeatedly told the officers executing the search warrant that they had the wrong home.

"The reforms to [Chicago Police Department's] search warrant policy follow a detailed, comprehensive and above all transparent process which build upon our ongoing efforts to ensure Chicago's values of accountability and fundamental human dignity are respected and preserved," the mayor said. "What Ms. Young experienced served as an abrupt wake up call to our entire city to the reforms our city needs and our values demand. Every step we have taken and we continue to take will be with that goal in mind."

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CBS Chicago reports that Lightfoot announced her first search warrant and raid reforms in January 2020, but the station has since highlighted instances when officers didn't follow the policy and botched raids continued. A change to the search warrant policy last year required the creation of a log if a raid is carried out at an address different than what is listed on the search warrant, according to CBS Chicago, but that didn't account for the dozens of wrong raids, including the one involving Young.

The Chicago Police Department said the proposal has been posted on its website for public review for 15 days. The department will review any comments "and will identify any concerns that may require further review," according to the press release.

In response to Wednesday's announcement, CBS Chicago reported that Keenan Saulter, the attorney representing Young, said Lightfoot's proposal "falls woefully short of the types of reforms that the citizens of Chicago require to feel secure in their homes from these violent and wrongful raids."

Saulter also mentioned provisions that were introduced by city council members in an ordinance last month that could head to the City Council Public Safety committee for review, according to CBS Chicago. Some of the provisions include forbidding police from pointing guns at children, and holding police responsible for any damage caused to the residence during a raid. In addition, Saulter said the ordinance would require body camera use during the entire raid.

In a statement to CBS Chicago on Young's incident, Saulter said, "As CBS2 has highlighted in its award-winning investigative series, it is just one egregious example of a documented pattern of illegal, violent and dehumanizing raids that have traumatized thousands of Black and Brown families, for which CPD has failed to hold a single officer to account."

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