47 States Still Allow No-Knock Warrants, Here’s What You Should Know

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No-knock warrants, the laws behind them, and how they’re used are once again coming under scrutiny following the murder of Amir Locke.

Locke was shot and killed by members of the Minneapolis SWAT team after officers barged into a residence where he was staying and opened fire within 10 seconds. The 22-year-old had been sleeping under a blanket at the time and wasn’t named on the search warrant.

On March 13, 2020, Breonna Taylor was shot and killed in a botched no-knock warrant raid in Louisville where officers stormed her apartment while she was sleeping. Her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, Jr. has maintained that he thought the officers were burglars.

In a deep-dive, ABC NewsKiara Alfonseca, reviews the history of no-knock warrants and what we all should know about the pieces of paper that allow officers to enter our homes “without announcing themselves.”

“This is an epic failure of policy, and that failed policy killed Amir Locke,” national civil rights attorney Ben Crump said during a press conference.

“Warrants create chaotic, confusing circumstances that put everyone at risk and those people are disproportionately marginalized people of color.”

No-knock warrants are generally used when the evidence officers want to collect could be destroyed if officers announce themselves, or if cops think they’re entering a potentially dangerous situation, ABC News reported.

The controversial practice believed to have started during the 1970s under former President Richard Nixon and the War on Drugs, Rachel Moran, a criminal justice professor, told the outlet.

The laws to expand federal law enforcement’s ability to use no-knock warrants were repealed years later over claims of abuse.

Since then, only three states –– Florida, Oregon and Virginia have completely banned no-knock warrants. Kentucky lawmakers moved to outlaw them too, following Taylor’s killing, but the measure was passed at the city-level only.

In Minneapolis where Locke was killed, the law changed in November 2020, following the murder of George Floyd. That policy states that officers have to announce themselves and their purpose before entering a residence, unless that would create an imminent threat, in which case a supervisor could authorize a no-knock entry.

Local advocates say the policy change hasn’t made much difference in the number of no-knock warrants being executed in the city. Before the November 2020 change, Minneapolis reported an average of 140 no-knock warrants. In the first ten months after the policy change, the city reported 90 no-knock warrant requests.

Representatives for the Fraternal Order of Police have said that they are “very much in favor of having meaningful discussions on how we can make it more checks and balances through elected officials and heads of agencies before they’re authorized.”

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