The Kentucky chapters of Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, both part of Everytown for Gun Safety, released the following statement after the Kentucky House passed SB 4, which would significantly limit the use of no-knock warrants and require safeguards to prevent their misuse. The bill now heads to the governor’s desk.
“This bill is an important step towards better protecting citizens from the dangers inherent in the execution of no-knock search warrants,” said Karl Stankovic, a volunteer with the Kentucky chapter of Moms Demand Action. “We’re grateful to lawmakers on both sides of the aisle for their support of this important police reform measure, and we now look to Governor Beshear to sign this legislation into law.”
Current Kentucky law allows courts to issue no-knock warrants in any case, including non-violent crimes and low-level drug cases. Under SB4, no-knock warrants could only be sought to investigate a small number of serious offenses, including capital crimes, A-level felonies, homicides, acts of terrorism, and use of weapons of mass destruction. Even in those cases, a no-knock warrant could only be issued if investigators show clear and convincing evidence that it’s necessary. The bill would also mandate several safeguards, including rigorous review of warrant applications by supervisors and judges, the use of specially trained officers and body cameras when no-knock warrants are executed, and the presence of EMTs to provide emergency care if necessary.
These important changes will significantly limit the use of no-knock warrants and put safeguards in place to mitigate the dangers they create.
Nearly a year ago, a no-knock warrant was issued to the Louisville Police Department, authorizing law enforcement to enter Breonna Taylor’s apartment without knocking and announcing their presence. Though it’s been reported that officers decided to knock and announce their presence, several witnesses claim they didn’t hear any such announcement. The deadly consequences of that night highlighted the dangers inherent in no-knock search warrants.
Black residents make up less than 25 percent of the population in Louisville, but are disproportionately impacted by police use of force. Black people were killed by Louisville Metro Police at nearly four times the rate of white people. In Kentucky, 140 people have been killed by police officers since 2013.