Community Engagement on CPD’s
Search Warrants Policies
In January 2017, The United States Department of Justice concluded a yearlong civil rights investigation into the Chicago Police Department. The investigation revealed serious problems within the nation’s second-largest police department, including evidence of discriminatory policing.
This led a federal judge to authorize a consent decree, which was approved on January 31, 2019. In March 2022, a court order (Stipulation Regarding Search Warrants) was approved by the Judge overseeing the Consent Decree adding CPD’s search warrant policy to the provisions of the Consent Decree. Among the many requirements, this addition to the Consent Decree mandates that the Chicago Police Department:
- Ensure that its policies and practices, including obtaining and serving search warrants, prohibit discrimination on the basis of any protected class under federal, state, and local law, including race, color, sex, gender identity, age, religion, disability, national origin, ancestry, sexual orientation, marital status, parental status, military status, source of income, credit history, criminal record, or criminal history.
- Require that all CPD members interact with all members of the public in an unbiased, fair, and respectful manner, including during the service of a search warrant.
In May of 2021, CPD issued a revised search warrant policy that incorporated community feedback received at the end of 2020 and early 2021. The reforms made at that time are still in CPD’s search warrant policy, include requirements for:
- An investigation to verify and corroborate information used to develop the search warrant.
- A deputy chief or above to approve residential search warrants for locations where occupants may be present.
- Limiting “No-Knock” search warrants to only when there is a danger to the life or safety and approved by a CPD Chief.
- The identification of and planning for vulnerable persons (e.g., children) present at the search warrant location.
- A misconduct investigation and critical incident after-action review for all “wrong raids.”
- A supervisor the rank of lieutenant or above and a female officer to be on-scene for all search warrants.
- All officers participating in serving a search warrant to wear and activate a body-worn camera.
As part of CPD’s ongoing mission to grow trust and build partnerships within the communities it serves, CPD again engaged the community on its search warrant policy from November 1st until December 31st, 2022. The community was invited to review and provide feedback on CPD’s current Search Warrant policy by:
- Posting the current search warrant policy for public comment on CPD’s website.
- Launching an anonymous input form asking various questions about search warrants.
- Conducting two (2) Community Conversations as city-wide Zoom meetings open to the public.
In January 2023, CPD shared updated and new policies around search warrants:
Special Order S04-19, “Search Warrants”
For ease of review, comprehension, reference, and training, CPD drafted a search warrant policy that introduces a newly developed suite of topic-specific directives, consisting of:
- S04-19 Search Warrants – outlines the overall search warrant policies with an emphasis on de-escalation, minimizing trauma, and respectful and equitable treatment.
- S04-19-01 Search Warrant Development, Review, and Approval – outlines the responsibilities and processes for the search warrant development investigation, review, and approval.
- S04-19-02 Search Warrant Service – outlines the requirements for the search warrant pre-planning session and the service of search warrants.
- S04-19-03 Search Warrant Post-Service Documentation and Review – outlines the requirements for the search warrant post-service documentation and administrative review of search warrants.
Department Notice D22-07, “Search Warrant Community Resources and Referrals Pilot Program”
- Started on January 9th, 2023 and provides support services after the service of a search warrant that include:
- securing and repairing any damage to the point of entry caused by CPD’s service of the search warrant.
- offering trauma-informed counseling services to persons present at the time of the search warrant.
- CPD’s Office of Community Policing, Crime Victim Services Section, works in conjunction with the City of Chicago Department of Buildings and Community Safety Coordination Center (CSCC) on providing these support services.
Give your Feedback
Following the public engagement period, CPD reviewed the feedback to inform revisions to its search warrant policy. In response to the comments, concerns, suggestions, and lived-experiences of community members, CPD has developed a new draft search warrant policy and implemented a search warrant pilot program. CPD now invites the community to review the search warrant pilot program and revised draft search warrant directives to provide additional feedback. CPD will consider these comments before finalizing the directives.
From January 31st, 2023 until May 31st, 2023, CPD invites the community to review the updated draft policies and provide your feedback on them. You can provide your feedback through several ways:
Public Comment on Policy
The Chicago Police Department invites you to review the draft policy and make comments and recommendations on it. To read the policies and provide your feedback.
Public comments will be open until May 31st, 2023.
Public Input Form
CPD has launched an anonymous input form that asks various questions around search warrants. These questions will allow you to provide feedback on specific components of the policies. Responses to this form are entirely anonymous.
The Chicago Police Department (CPD) is inviting community groups and organizations interested in providing feedback on its Search Warrant policy to meet with members from the Chicago Police Department’s Office of Community Policing and Office of Constitutional Policing and Reform.
Deliberative dialogues ideally involves representatives of various points of view in the community, including those who have been historically underrepresented in public forums and are aimed at understanding other perspectives on important topics or challenges. During deliberative dialogues, participants are invited to share their personal experiences on the issue and engage in a discussion of ideas on resolutions or needed changes in a safe, neutral setting. These dialogues may not always produce a consensus in the end, but the group will ideally understand the complexities of the issue and have a more informed opinion of it. CPD believes these types of dialogues are incredibly helpful at ensuring CPD members understand the perspectives and experiences of the community as policies continue to be revised.
What we ask of your organization:
• Review the draft Search Warrant policy
• Identify components within the policies that your organization would like to address.
• Have a collaborative and respectful mindset that enables productive dialogue between your organization and CPD.
Meetings will begin after February 1st, 2023 and will be offered until May 31st, 2023. Organizations interested in participating in a deliberative dialogue must sign-up by May 15th, 2023.
Due to the high demand for meetings, CPD will accommodate as many meeting requests as possible but may not get to every request before March 31st, 2023.
If you have additional questions, please contact [email protected]
Additional Information About Search Warrants
What is a Search Warrant?
A search warrant is a court order that is approved and signed by a judge. Once approved by a judge, a search warrant gives CPD officers the lawful authority to enter a location and search for evidence of a crime.
How do CPD Officers get a Search Warrant?
A search warrant is based on a sworn statement of probable cause, meaning the CPD officer has reason to believe, based on reasonably trustworthy information that a crime has occurred and that evidence of the crime can be found at the premises to be searched. This sworn statement must be verified and corroborated by a documented, independent investigation by the CPD officer.
How are Residential and Electronic/Evidentiary Search Warrants Different?
A residential search warrant is served at a location where occupants might be present, such as a house or an apartment. An electronic or evidentiary search warrant is served to recover evidence of a crime, such as to access cellular phones, computers, electronic recording equipment, or DNA buccal swabs.
Who Needs to Approve a CPD Search Warrant?
Only a judge can approve a search warrant served by CPD. However, before being presented to a judge for approval, any residential search warrant served by CPD officers is reviewed by their supervisors, approved by a command-level supervisor (deputy chief or above), and reviewed by the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office.
What is a “No-Knock” Search Warrant?
A “No-Knock” search warrant allows CPD officers to enter a property without any immediate notice or announcement, such as knocking, ringing a doorbell, or verbally asking to enter. The judge approving a residential search warrant must also authorize the warrant as a “No-Knock.” CPD will only ask a judge to approve a “No-Knock” search warrant when there is a belief that knocking and announcing would be dangerous to the life or safety of officers or other people and the search warrant has been approved by a CPD Bureau Chief.
How does CPD Accommodate Vulnerable Persons (e.g., Children) in a Residence?
The documented, independent search warrant investigation by a CPD officer must attempt to verify occupants of the search warrant location, paying special attention to any potentially vulnerable persons. Additionally, prior to each CPD search warrant being served, a CPD supervisor conducts a planning session to identify and plan for potentially vulnerable persons, including children, at the search warrant location.
What is a “Wrong Raid” and how are they investigated?
A “Wrong Raid” is a search warrant that is served at the wrong location (not the address of the search warrant) or when the circumstances are different than the facts of the search warrant (location or activities are not as stated in the search warrant). Each identified “Wrong Raid” gets a critical incident after-action review by CPD and is reported to the Civilian Office of Police Accountability (COPA) for investigation.