The Kentucky chapters of Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, both part of Everytown for Gun Safety, released the following statement after the Senate Judiciary Committee passed SB 4, which would limit the use of no-knock warrants to investigations of a small number of serious offenses and require safeguards to prevent their misuse.
“This legislation is an important step towards ending police violence, like the kind that stole Breonna Taylor’s life,” said Rebecca Vaught, a volunteer with Kentucky Students Demand Action. “This legislation will protect people in Kentucky, especially Black and Latino communities, from gun violence at the hands of those who are meant to protect and serve. We refuse to accept violence by police as normal and look to the Senate to make this bill as strong as possible.”
Current Kentucky law allows for no-knock warrants in any case, including non-violent crimes and low-level drug cases.This bill would mandate several safeguards, including rigorous review of warrant applications, and the use of specially trained officers and body cameras when no-knock warrants are executed. 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.
These important changes will significantly limit the use of no-knock warrants and put safeguards in place to mitigate the dangers they create. Unfortunately, the bill would still allow courts to issue no-knock warrants in cases where the only risk created by officers knocking and announcing their presence is the destruction of evidence. No-knock entry should only be authorized in cases where it’s necessary to prevent an imminent threat to the safety of officers or others.
A no-knock warrant was initially issued to the Louisville Police Department, authorizing law enforcement to enter Breonna Taylor’s apartment almost one year ago without knocking and announcing their presence. It’s reported that prior to executing the warrant, law enforcement officers decided to execute the warrant as a “knock and announce.”
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.