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Statewide limitations on no-knock warrants discussed

Posted at 6:53 PM, Jul 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-28 18:53:48-04

(LEX 18) — As people across the country demand justice for Breonna Taylor, Kentucky lawmakers are discussing limits on no-knock search warrants.

That's the warrant Louisville Metro Police used to enter Taylor's home the night she was shot and killed. The controversial police tool has been criticized since then.

It was one of the topics of discussion on Tuesday when the Interim Joint Committee on Local Government discussed law enforcement issues and reform.

"The case that brings us to this point in discussion is such that one o'clock at night, the Louisville Metro Police executed a no-knock search warrant as a stand-alone search warrant. Not in relation to anything else. They were going to go into a house and collect evidence or indicia of a crime," said Senate President Robert Stivers.

Chief Art Ealum, the President of the Kentucky Association of Chiefs of Police, told lawmakers no-knock search warrant should rarely be used.

"They should not be used for purposes to recover property, drugs, or anything like that. Under extreme, rarely extreme, exigent circumstances - in matters of preserving human life in a hostage type situation - only should they be utilized," said Ealum. "Never to retrieve drugs or prevent the loss of drugs."

Sheriff Keith Cain, who represents the Kentucky Sheriffs Association, agreed with Ealum. He told lawmakers the risk to suspects, officers, and bystanders is too high to outweigh any advantage police get by using a no-knock search warrant.

"The reality is that no-knock warrants fly directly in the face of the Castle Doctrine," said Sheriff Cain. "People have the right to defend themselves in their own homes, and that makes it even more critically important that police officers clearly identify themselves before forcibly entering a home."

Lawmakers are currently working on a bill that limits no-knock search warrants.

"As a stand-alone tool, no-knock search warrants would be banned. They could be used as a secondary tool to something else that's the primary purpose of the police officers," said Stivers.

The goal is to have the draft of the bill finished soon so the proposal can be discussed in the next legislative session.