Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and the city’s police superintendent have announced proposed changes to the department’s search warrant policy and procedures, more than a year after officers reportedly barged into the wrong home and forced the woman living there to stand naked in handcuffs for several minutes.
Lightfoot and Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown on Wednesday outlined changes designed to prevent a repeat of the scene in February 2019 at the home of Anjanette Young, starting with a ban on all “no-knock” warrants except “in specific cases where lives or safety are in danger,” they said.
Also, search warrants that now require the approval of a lieutenant will have to be approved by someone ranked deputy chief or higher, and a female officer must be on the scene whenever search warrants are served, officials said.
An unnamed informant gave police Young’s address, saying a man was illegally possessing a gun there. In a video of the raid released in December, which was first reported by local CBS 2 Chicago, a naked Young repeatedly tells officers they have the wrong home and that there are no guns in the apartment. She had returned home after work and was undressing for bed when police barged into her home.
Under the proposed policy, officers will be required before a search warrant is executed to, according to the news release, “conduct a planning session … to identify any potentially vulnerable people” who may be inside. Also, the policy will require an independent investigation to make sure the information used to obtain the warrant is accurate.
Young’s attorney, Keenan J. Saulter, said in a statement provided to Fox News that the city’s proposal “falls woefully short.”
“CPD’s raid of Ms. Young’s home is not an anomaly,” Saulter continued. “[I]t 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.”
Saulter said “nearly 3,000 of CPD’s approximately 6,800 home raids” from 2016 to 2019 did not yield a single arrest.
“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,” Saulter said.
Saulter also said Lightfoot’s proposal does not include provisions in an ordinance introduced last month by aldermen, including one that would prohibit officers from pointing guns at children.
Just last month, Young sued Chicago and a dozen CPD officers for allegedly engaging in a conspiracy to cover up civil rights violations. All 12 officers have been placed on desk duty pending the outcome of a Civilian Office of Police Accountability investigation and the city’s top attorney resigned shortly after the video became public.
At a press briefing on Wednesday, Brown and Lightfoot said the new policy will be posted as a draft on the police department’s website for 15 days so the public can comment on it. Lightfoot said she hopes the final policy will be implemented by the end of the month.
Lightfoot has come under intense criticism for the way she and the city responded to the botched raid at Young’s home. During the several minutes she was allegedly not allowed to dress, the social worker tearfully told officers who continued to search the home that they were at the wrong address.
Chicago’s law department initially tried in court to keep the video from being made public. Then, when WBBM-TV aired the video from Young’s home late last year, Lightfoot said she was only then learning about the video. She acknowledged later that she received a detailed email about the video a year earlier.
On Wednesday, Lightfoot reiterated what she said at that time, saying: “The fact of the matter is that trust was, no question, shaken.”
The police department has long struggled to change its reputation for brutality and misconduct. On Wednesday, Brown suggested that the problems won’t be solved simply by changing rules.
“If Ms. Young was the biggest drug kingpin we still should have treated her with dignity and respect,” he said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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