Mayor Lori Lightfoot has recently proposed amending current search warrant policies to ensure that there is not a repeat of what happened in the 2019 wrongful raid on Anjanette Young’s home.
According to the Chicago Tribune, the City Council has been pushing for greater police reform, especially when it comes to search warrants, pressuring the city to adopt stricter police reforms in the wake of the Anjanette Young debacle.
The mayor’s proposal comes from the Chicago Police Department, and includes requiring approval by a deputy chief or higher rank, rather than just a lieutenant, to authorize a search warrant, as well as banning all “no-knock” warrants unless there is a safety threat, which needs to be approved by the bureau chief or higher, and will be tasked to a SWAT team.
Other reforms in the proposal include adding careful deliberation before a raid to ensure that the information obtained to approve the warrant was accurate, as well as following up any mistakes or wrongful raids with an “after-action review” and investigation by the city. Finally, a female officer must accompany all searches.
Lightfoot stressed that the reforms are meant to protect citizens’ human rights and dignity. She said, “Each of these reforms was crafted for the sole purpose of ensuring that the rights and the basic human dignity of all Chicagoans, no matter what the circumstances, are respected and protected, and that the wrongs of the past are made right. This moment, however, is not the end. It’s the beginning.”
Despite Lightfoot’s best intentions, her proposal is receiving some criticism from the City Council who believe her reforms are insufficient. Their own proposal consisted of further reforms supported by Young that included banning police from pointing guns at children, handcuffing them, or doing the same to relatives in front of children.
Some see the recent reforms as an attempt by the mayor to regain the trust of the City Council after her administration did not initially grant Young an “open records request” to allow the publication of body camera footage of the raid on her home.
“Trust is not something that is a static thing. It has to be constantly worked upon and you have to make sure that you’re committing yourself fundamentally to being present, and to listen, and to making sure that you’re being responsive to the feedback,” Lightfoot said. “It’s an ongoing process I think that any leader has, and me in particular.
Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown who helped develop the proposal said that the search warrant policy will be posted as a draft on the CPD’s website for 15 days for public transparency and comment before a final policy is implemented. He encouraged the public to review the new policy and give feedback.
“We must always work to improve. We must always focus special emphasis on continually improving our policies, training, transparency and accountability,” Brown said.
Many were unsatisfied with the proposal.
Young’s attorney, Keenan Saulter, released a statement saying the mayor’s proposals fell “woefully short of the types of reforms that the citizens of Chicago require to feel secure in their homes from these violent and often wrongful raids.”
Police accountability “experts,” such as civil rights attorney Sheila Bedi, claim that the reforms are not sufficient and are vague as to how officers should act in a “least harmful” way during raids.
Bedi said, “There are sort of hints at understanding how serious and devastating these practices have been. But the remedies just fall far short of really addressing the harm.”