‘No-Knock’ Search Warrants Face Legislative Opposition

Published by Matt Fishman on

The Fourth Amendment protects American citizens from “unreasonable searches and seizures”. In accordance with the Fourth Amendment, authorities, typically, must obtain a search warrant by a “neutral and detached” judge, and when probable cause exists.

This type of warrant also includes a requirement that law enforcement officers “must first knock and announce their identity and intent. Then, they must wait a reasonable amount of time to allow an occupant to open the door.”

In the 1957 Supreme Court case Richards v. Wisconsin, the Supreme Court instituted an over-arcing exception to this knocking requirement when they ruled that a no-knock entry “is justified when the police have a reasonable suspicion that knocking and announcing their presence, under the particular circumstances, would be dangerous or futile, or that it would inhibit the effective investigation of the crime.”

Now, Senator Rand Paul has introduced a new bill to congress that would bar the use of “no-knock” search warrants. The “Justice for Breonna Taylor Act” would nationally prohibit the order and execution of any search warrant that “does not require the law enforcement officer serving the warrant to provide notice of his or her authority and purpose before forcibly entering a premises”. If passed, every search warrant ordered and executed would require the officers to announce who they are and why they are there before they are allowed to enter.

The bill’s introduction comes near the two month anniversary of Breonna Taylor’s death. Breonna Taylor died after being shot eight times by plain clothed police officers during their execution of a “no-knock search warrant.” Five search warrants had been signed by District Judge Mary Shaw, all “within 12 minutes”, with the intention of catching a man named Jamarcus Glover, believed to be at Breonna’s apartment and in possession of narcotics. Glover ultimately was not at Breonna Taylor’s apartment at the time of the search, however, he was arrested later that night.

In Louisville, Kentucky, the city in which Breonna Taylor was killed, city council has since passed a bill banning the use of no-knock search warrants in a unanimous 28-0 decision. “Breonna’s Bill”, as it has been named, also requires Louisville Metro Police Department and Metro law enforcement to knock and wait a minimum of 15 seconds for a response, and to wear an active body camera whenever a search warrant is served.

Mayor of Louisville, Greg Fischer, signed the bill “as soon as it hit his desk”.