A divided Illinois appellate court recently stated that a decision striking down a controversial law enforcement practice used only in Cook County will not have dire consequences for the one department affected. “Our decision merely puts the Chicago police officers on equal footing with their colleagues in other departments throughout the State of Illinois.”

The court struck down a Chicago police practice known as an “investigative alert.” It enabled supervisors to order police to arrest suspects they encountered without search warrants or observing them committing a crime.

The appeals court wrote that the investigative alerts enabled cops to get the green light “without the one thing the framers of the Illinois Constitution thought most essential—the presentation of sworn facts to a judge,” wrote Appellate Judge Michael B. Hyman in the majority opinion.

The judge noted that timing was not an issue because in many situations, securing an investigative alert took “the same or more time to procure (as) a warrant.”

The defendant in the case reviewed by the appellate court, Cordell Bass, was involved in an incident five years ago when he and his girlfriend spent the night at the home of a female acquaintance. When the girlfriend went to the bathroom, Bass allegedly entered the acquaintance’s bedroom and touched her inappropriately. She woke up, screamed, and Bass fled, and the police were called.

Officers didn’t get a warrant, however. An investigative alert was instead issued for Bass. Three weeks later, he was riding in a car that was pulled over. Though police had not observed him committing any crime, a search of his name in the police database turned up the investigative alert. He was arrested.

The court ordered a new trial for Bass in its decision striking down the investigative alerts.

If your Cook County arrest involved an investigative alert, contact a Chicago criminal defense attorney who knows the law, the courts and how to protect your rights and freedom.