Kentucky legislators unanimously voted to approve a bill that would restrict the usage of “no-knock” warrants on Thursday, in an increasing effort to prohibit excessive force policies evoked in the death of Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old Black woman who was fatally shot last spring after Louisville cops raided her home during a botched raid.
House members will now move forward with a vote.
The bill, filed by Senate President Robert Stivers states that no-knock warrants can only be acquired with “clear and convincing evidence” that the “crime alleged is a crime that would qualify a person, if convicted, as a violent offender.” The warrants would have to be executed between the hours of 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. Another aspect of the bill requires officers to go through a more expansive process in order to obtain warrants, as well as an eligible signature from the judge who approved the warrant.
Community activists and leaders advocated for reform throughout the summer during the Black Lives Matter demonstrations in response to the gross negligence and errors made leading to Taylor’s death. Much of the focus centered around the usage of a no-knock warrant which falsely accused Taylor of participating in a drug ring orchestrated by her former boyfriend Jamarcus Glover. In the end, Taylor was murdered while no drugs were discovered in her home.
Measures like the one which recently passed in Kentucky’s state house continue to gain widespread support, moving upwards through the government’s framework. Louisville’s Metro Council banned all no-knock warrants in June 2020, and other states like Virginia, Oregon and Florida have passed similar measures.
However in Kentucky, several legislators and community members in support of Taylor’s family believe reform has to go further to prevent another loss of life. Measures like Breonna’s Law, introduced by Kentucky lawmaker Rep. Attica Scott, calls for banning no-knock warrants and leans more heavily on police accountability.
Breonna’s Law would also require officers to turn on their body cameras while serving the warrant and anytime a police-involved shooting or a deadly incident occurs. Scott’s proposal also requires drug testing for officers involved in deadly incidents. The bill has not moved past the House.
Scott believes her colleagues in the Senate could have worked harder to compromise on a measure instead of moving forward on a seperate bill, and noted the challenges regarding policy around police reform policy due to a legislative body comprised mostly of Republican lawmakers.
“He [Stivers] could have, instead, worked with us to make sure that our bill reflected what he may have wanted to see in a no-knock warrant piece of legislation,” she told WKLY. “What political oppression looks like is the bill that we filed, House Bill 21, hasn’t even been assigned to a committee yet.”
Currently, lawmakers on Capitol Hill have a series of sweeping reforms related to criminal justice on the docket. One of which includes the Justice For Breonna Taylor Act, which was introduced in the Senate last summer. The bill has backing from Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, with the vision that both Republicans and Democrats can come together to pass reform, but the bill has stalled for a vote.
“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 last summer.