No-knock warrants became a popular policing technique in the late 1980s. The warrants, typically issued by a judge, allow law enforcement to enter a home without notice to anyone inside. This practice can give police two major advantages: One, a suspect can’t hide evidence. Two, a suspect is less likely to be ready with a weapon.
But even with those advantages, the warrants have
been dangerous — for both residents and law enforcement, reported Stateline.
The Breonna Taylor case was a tragic example. Although a
judge approved a no-knock warrant, the officers claim they knocked and said
“police” before using a battering ram to get into Taylor’s apartment. Inside,
her startled boyfriend fired a gun at the officers, injuring one. Officers shot
back, striking Taylor multiple times, killing her. Taylor’s boyfriend later
said he didn’t hear any announcement from the officers and thought they were
Since Taylor’s death, lawmakers in 10 states have
introduced or pre-filed legislation to ban or restrict no-knock warrants. A
handful of local jurisdictions are discussing it. And at least 13 local
governments or police departments — from Baltimore to Killeen, Texas — have
banned the warrants or restricted their use.
Some criminal justice experts caution that banning
the practice doesn’t take into account possible loopholes.
“Much of the problem is … what we call quick-knock
warrants,” said Peter Kraska, a professor at Eastern Kentucky University’s
School of Justice Studies.
For example, Kraska said, officers could knock but
enter a home right away, thereby potentially creating the same risks as a
no-knock warrant. And there are situations when being able to enter a home
without knocking could be essential, he said, such as when officers are dealing
with an active shooter.
“At the end of the day, any kind of warrant service
tends to be dangerous, period,” said Thor Eells, executive director of the
National Tactical Officers Association, a 40,000-member organization in the United
States and Canada that trains police units. “The question is: What actions can
law enforcement take to reduce that risk?”
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