Lightfoot unveils search warrant reformsFran Spielmanon March 3, 2021 at 3:03 pm

A screenshot from body-camera video of a police raid in 2019 at the home of social worker Anjanette Young. The police were in the wrong home.
A botched raid on the home of social worker Anjanette Young — police had the wrong house — sparked an effort to reform the Chicago Police Department’s search warrant policies. | CBS 2 Chicago

No-knock warrants will be strictly prohibited except in “specific cases where lives or safety are in danger.” And even in those extreme cases, they will need to be approved by a “bureau chief or higher.”

Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Wednesday unveiled an array of reforms aimed at preventing a repeat of the botched raid on the wrong house that humiliated an innocent woman and forced a crying and pleading Anjanette Young to stand naked and handcuffed before male police officers for 40 minutes.

No-knock warrants will be strictly prohibited except in “specific cases where lives or safety are in danger.” And even in those extreme cases, they will need to be approved by a “bureau chief or higher.”

All other search warrants will need to be approved by a “deputy chief or higher,” instead of by a lieutenant.

Before either type of search warrant is executed, the team involved will be required to conduct a “planning session” to identify “any potentially vulnerable people who may be present at the location in question, including children.”

In addition, an “independent investigation” will be required before warrants are served to “verify and corroborate that the informed used to obtain the warrant is accurate.”

To prevent a repeat of the indignity that Anjanette Young suffered, at least one female officer will be required to be present for the serving of all search warrants. So must a “lieutenant or higher.”

The reforms are not nearly as sweeping as those unveiled by Black female aldermen and embraced by Anjanette Young.

But Lightfoot is hoping they’re enough to regain the trust she lost after the now-infamous airing of the botched raid on Young’s home.

“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,” the mayor was quoted as saying in a press release.

“Every step we have taken and we continue to take will be with that goal in mind.”

Lightfoot has been under fire for her changing story about what she knew and when she knew it about the botched raid that saw a crying Anjanette Young telling officers more than 40 times that they had the wrong house as they cavalierly allowed her to stand there naked. It took a long time before one of the officers finally gave her a blanket to cover up.

The mayor initially insisted she knew nothing about the raid until WBBM-TV (Channel 2) aired the video in December.

But after reviewing internal emails, the mayor was forced to admit she learned about the raid in November 2019, when a top aide warned Lightfoot about a “pretty bad wrongful raid” by Chicago police.

“I have a lot of questions about this one,” she wrote at the time to top aides.

The mayor has emphatically denied knowing anything about her Law Department’s efforts to block the CBS2 from airing bodycam video of the raid. To underscore the point, she forced the resignation of Corporation Counsel Mark Flessner, a longtime friend who served together with Lightfoot in the U.S. attorney’s office.

Lightfoot is a former Police Board president who co-chaired the Task Force on Police Accountability in the furor that followed the police shooting of Laquan McDonald.

Former Mayor Rahm Emanuel was ordered to release the video of convicted Chicago Police officer Jason Van Dyke shooting McDonald sixteen times after the video was concealed until Emanuel had been safely re-elected in 2015.

Lightfoot personally drafted the policy that requires the city to release body and dash cam video of police shooting and other incidents involving police shootings within 60 days.

That’s apparently why the accusation that she somehow played a role in the Law Department’s efforts to conceal the video hit so close to home. It’s also why she is so sensitive to trust that she has lost.

“There’s a lot of trust that’s been breached. And I know that there is a lot of trust in me that’s been breached,” the mayor said in December.

“We will do better. We will win back the trust that we have lost.”

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