Arrests Based on “Investigative Alerts” Gets the Attention of the Illinois Supreme Court

April 1, 2020

A hotly debated issue in law enforcement these days is whether the police can arrest a person based on a so-called “investigative alert.” These alerts are based on a department policy that permit a warrantless arrest based on certain information that the department possesses at the time of the arrest. In a divided opinion, the Illinois Appellate Court in People v. Bass, 2019 IL App (1st) 160640 (2019), appeal allowed, ___ Ill.2d ___ (2020), held that arrests based on investigative alerts violates the Illinois Constitution’s requirement that warrants be supported by probable cause affidavits. In March of 2020, the Illinois Supreme Court agreed to hear the case, and a decision is expected later this year or early 2021. It should be noted that Bass presents only a question of Illinois law. The Appellate Court rejected a federal constitutional prohibition on investigative alerts, and at least one federal judge has held that such a policy is constitutionally valid under the Fourth Amendment. See Taylor v. City of Chicago, 2020 WL 92003 *4-5 (N.D. Ill. 2020) (applying collective knowledge doctrine and case law allowing warrantless arrests supported by probable cause based on police bulletins).

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