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OIG Reports- Police Search Warrants and Police Response to Protests in 2020

The Public Safety section of the City of Chicago Office of Inspector General (OIG) is charged by the Municipal Code of Chicago (MCC) with reviewing and auditing the Chicago Police Department’s (CPD) policies, practices, programs, and training with respect to constitutional policing, discipline, and use of force, and as they affect CPD’s integrity, transparency, and relationship with City residents. This is a report on the search warrant issues brought up in recent Committee on Finance hearings regarding wrongly implemented search warrants by the CPD and federal partners. OIG recommended that CPD modify its directive on search warrants to require verification and corroboration of information in all circumstances, and broaden the circumstances in which supervisors must initiate an investigation to determine whether discipline is necessary and appropriate when a search warrant execution goes wrong. In response, CPD Superintendent David Brown accepted both of OIG’s recommendations, and indicated that CPD’s policies “should be amended to require a CPD member investigate and verify the information used to substantiate a search warrant.” Superintendent Brown further stated that CPD “intends to amend its order to expand the circumstances where officers are required to open a [disciplinary] investigation.” Superintendent Brown noted that he has formed a “Search Warrant Committee” and “will engage with the community to listen to their concerns” about CPD’s search warrant practices.

On May 25, 2020, George Floyd was killed by the Minneapolis, Minnesota police. In the days that followed, protests and civil unrest engulfed cities across the country. In June 2020, the City of Chicago Office of Inspector General (OIG) and the Independent Monitoring Team (IMT) overseeing the consent decree entered in Illinois v. Chicago launched a joint inquiry into the City of Chicago’s response to the demonstrations and unrest in late May and early June. This report is the summation of OIG’s findings from that inquiry. Consistent with the AP Stylebook, OIG uses the terms “protests” and “demonstrations” to describe marches, rallies, and other actions. OIG uses the term “unrest” to describe more violent or destructive criminal behavior such as looting and/or vandalism.

OIG’s report is an in-depth review of the period of May 29 through June 7, both chronologically and analytically. The report aims to present, to the extent possible based on the information and material available, a comprehensive account of the facts, including how involved parties––members of the public, CPD’s rank-and-file, and CPD’s command staff, among others––experienced the protests and unrest. A number of City departments beyond CPD, as well as partner law enforcement agencies, played critical roles in the City’s overall response. OIG sought out information and perspectives from representatives of these City departments and external partner agencies. OIG’s chronology, analysis, and findings are supported by an array of primary and secondary sources, including: interviews, video footage, radio traffic recordings, official reports and other documents, and quantitative analysis of CPD datasets.

OIG and the IMT requested and reviewed thousands of documents and conducted more than 70 interviews with CPD officials, rank-and-file CPD members, officials at other City of Chicago departments, representatives of County and State entities, and members of the public. Perspectives from members of the public were also gathered as part of the record in Illinois v. Chicago during two days of listening sessions held by the Court. OIG further reviewed and analyzed data on CPD’s arrests and reported uses of force during the days at issue, and reviewed over one hundred hours of body-worn camera (BWC) footage and recorded radio transmission

For now, in light of the urgency of public concern and the rapidly shifting policy landscape, OIG publishes this narrative and accompanying findings without specific recommendations, but with the intention that it inform corrective actions and reforms to CPD’s policies and practices.



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