On Thursday, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) introduced a bill that would prohibit law enforcement officers from forcing entry into homes without announcing themselves first. The proposed legislation, which is known as the “Justice for Breonna Taylor Act,” is a two-page bill that would essentially outlaw no-knock warrants.
The bill is named after Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old former EMT who was killed by police officers who attempted to forcibly enter her home while serving a no-knock warrant. After her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker allegedly fired a shot at the officers, believing they were burglars, the officers fired 20 shots into the apartment, eight of which struck Taylor, killing her instantly.
“After talking with Breonna Taylor’s family, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s long past time to get rid of no-knock warrants. This bill will effectively end no-knock raids in the United States,” Paul said in a statement.
The draft of the bill reads, “State or local law enforcement agency that receive funds from the Department of Justice during the fiscal year may not execute a 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.”
Before the nation was focused on the death of George Floyd, Taylor’s story ignited a debate on the necessity of no-knock warrants. This isn’t the first time this law enforcement practice has been under scrutiny on the right. High-profile right-leaning pundits have drawn attention to Duncan Lemp, a man who was also killed during a no-knock raid.
The Louisville Metro Council voted to pass its own ban on no-knock warrants. They titled the measure “Breonna’s Law.” The measure, which received unanimous support from members of the council, needs to be approved by the city’s mayor. The ordinance would require officers to knock and wait for at least fifteen seconds for a response before forcing entry into a home.
As the debate over addressing police reform rages, it seems that some are already taking action to decrease the number of preventable deaths that occur due to interactions with the police. The statistics regarding the practice don’t paint a positive picture. Police are authorized to conduct over 20,000 no-knock raids each year. In 65% of these raids, no contraband has been found.
Given the fact that the practice is dangerous for both civilians and police officers, it seems likely that other local governments might follow suit regardless of how Paul’s proposal fares in Congress. Perhaps we will see some major changes in the use of this tactic in the near future.
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