Cook County Chief Judge Timothy Evans hired a well-known law firm to investigate allegations that the court's probation department has improperly teamed up on searches of probationers' homes with Chicago police and the FBI, reports the Chicago Tribune. Evans' decision to bring in an outside law firm is the result of a Tribune investigation that found the Adult Probation Department for years has quietly worked with law enforcement to go into probationers’ homes without warrants, looking for guns, drugs and information and leading to questionable and illegal searches.
Their actions in some cases triggered accusations that drugs were planted, money was stolen and probationers were threatened with jail if they refused to become informants for Chicago police and the FBI. “I am outraged by these allegations which, if true, could be considered a blatant disregard of constitutional rights,” Evans said. “It is the responsibility of the probation officers to safeguard the rights of probationers at all times by ensuring appropriate policies and procedures are followed.” Many of the concerns stemmed from the activities of the specialized weapons units supervised by Deputy Chief Philippe Loizon, a veteran probation officer who has built alliances with police and the FBI, at times over his bosses' objections.