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Search warrant reforms triggered by a botched police raid have failed

A Chicago City Council committee voted Thursday to reject legislation enacted in response to a botched 2019 police raid on a black woman that sparked widespread outrage.

Anjanette Young’s ordinance — named after a social worker who was forced to stand handcuffed and naked in her home while Chicago police officers mistakenly searched her home — was brought before the Council’s public safety committee. The extreme North side of Ald. Maria Hadden, 49th, and others first introduced it to the body in February 2021, but it never received a vote as Mayor Lori Lightfoot argued that such reforms should be reflected in police department directives rather than codified into law.

The vote failed 10-4. However, Vice Chairman Harry Osterman said the item “will remain in committee,” allowing for a potential vote on another day.

“There is … a real human cost to having your door broken down, with heavily armed police officers pointing guns at you and your children,” Hadden said. “In Ms. Young’s experience, when she’s caught straight after work, unclothed, she feels completely vulnerable and doesn’t understand what’s going on. And we need to find ways to prevent these types of unintended harms if possible.”

The raid at Young’s home was captured on officers’ body cameras and quickly went viral after the video was released publicly, sparking one of Lightfoot’s biggest police-holding scandals of her first term. The footage was first reported by WBBM-TV Ch. 2 in its series of stories about imprecise search warrants — after City Hall took the extraordinary step of seeking a court order to stop the broadcast of video footage of the raid.

Young herself addressed the chairmen on Thursday in emotional testimony, telling them that her life will “never be the same because of this experience” and that it is still “a daily struggle for me to function in any normal capacity or lifestyle.” .

“Today we have an opportunity to choose a different path that leads our city to true accountability in how officers interact with the community,” she said. “Be bold, be brave and do the right thing by moving this ordinance forward.”

After the video was finally released, Lightfoot made a “disturbing series of unsubstantiated claims” about the illegal raid, according to a report by former Chicago inspector general Joseph Ferguson. The mayor commissioned the law firm Jones Day to conduct its own investigation, which found that city officials did not follow procedures or communicate, but there was “no evidence” of a “deliberate cover-up” by the city.

The latest proposed version of Anjeanette Young’s ordinance would add a provision requiring an officer seeking a warrant to conduct on-site surveillance for at least a week. The ban on restraining orders remains, except in cases of “exigent circumstances” such as imminent physical harm.

Restraining orders allow officers to forcibly enter homes without reporting themselves, most notably in the 2020 police shooting of Breona Taylor, a black woman killed in Louisville during a botched drug investigation.

Also under Hadden’s legislation, Chicago police would be required to release data on every residential warrant issued and refer every failed raid to the Office of Civilian Police Accountability. Informants cannot be the only source of information for a warrant, and if children are present, at least one social worker or mental health professional must be present.

But Lightfoot opposes efforts by Hadden and other aldermen to end police raids with an ordinance, suggesting last year that the legislation “didn’t seem like it was written by someone with a lot of experience” in best policing practices. She added that the consent decree, which binds the police department, requires “agility” that the city ordinance would undermine.

“If we make it static, as in the city council law, it would be unprecedented, number one, but I think it would prevent the department from being able to respond nimbly to changing circumstances that might require more rapid action,” Lightfoot said. defending his administration’s individual policy reforms as “responsible” for Young’s concern over that botched raid.

At Thursday’s meeting, Hadden said Lightfoot rebuffed repeated attempts to work out a compromise, despite asking to suspend Thursday’s vote to work out one. Hadden then said administration officials called the chairmen to say the consent decree would bar further changes to the warrant policy.

“If they tell you you can’t do it, they’re lying to you, okay? That’s false,” Hadden said, urging Council members to use their authority to guide CPD policy rather than “shift the responsibility” to the federal court that oversees the consent decree.

Elena Gottreich, the city’s deputy mayor for public safety, warned aldermen Thursday that passing the ordinance would duplicate CPD’s current efforts to gather public comment on the search warrant policy. Public comment is open until Dec. 31, and with the policy in place, CPD officials said it will be reopened for public input next spring.

The Chicago Police Department has announced changes to its warrant policy that will go into effect in May 2021, and Hadden acknowledged that the reforms largely coincide with, and in some cases go beyond, her ordinance. It requires a member of the department with the rank of lieutenant or higher to be on the scene when the warrant is executed, and each member of the team executing the warrant must wear body cameras.

A woman from the department must also be present when the warrant is issued, the policy says, and a warrant issued on a property or place where residents may be must be reviewed by multiple supervisors, including a deputy chief. In addition, more unusual John Doe warrants and restraining orders must be authorized by bureau chiefs. John Doe warrants are based on anonymous but verified tips.




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