For the last decade, and perhaps more, police in Illinois have been allowed to use investigative alerts to take action. In many cases, they were allowed to act without a warrant due to the alert. However, a recent ruling has put an end to this process.
According to local news reports, the police force in Chicago was the only one operating through these investigative reports and sidestepping warrants. This may have led to arrests in Chicago that would not have happened elsewhere.
A split decision
Interestingly, the recent ruling was not a unanimous decision, but only went through by a 2-1 vote. The two judges who voted for the change, though, said that those who wrote the Illinois constitution believed that the “presentation of sworn facts to a judge” was the most essential part of the process. They said that using these alerts to make arrests allowed officers to get the approval they needed from a supervisor without taking this key step of going before a judge, and they felt like that flew in the face of what the constitution was attempting to accomplish.
Not all arrests are made on warrants, of course. Many are made in the heat of the moment — arresting a shoplifter who is fleeing the scene, for instance.
But warrants are a critical part of the process when investigating people for alleged crimes that happened in the past. Warrants are needed to carry out searches of homes, for instance, or to arrest those who are suspected of committing these crimes. The goal is to reduce police corruption by making officers prove to the judge that such action is necessary before doing anything. Though nothing will ever prevent all false arrests, this is supposed to reduce the number that happen every year.
It is clear that, in light of this new ruling, the laws and rules are changing in Chicago. It will be very interesting to see the impact this has on arrest totals and subsequent cases. All who are accused of crimes need to know their legal rights.