LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Kentucky Senate President Robert Stivers is introducing legislation to restrict no-knock warrants.
Senate Bill 4, which was introduced Tuesday, comes nearly a year after Breonna Taylor was shot and killed when police were serving a no-knock warrant on her Louisville apartment. Some legislators, including Stivers, began drafting legislation to address the warrants in Kentucky.
"There is not a place in law enforcement for a no-knock search warrant," Stivers said last summer. He called the no-knock warrant served on Taylor's apartment "bad policing." Stivers said there would only be few exceptions, like dangerous hostage situations. However, when introduced Tuesday, Senate Bill 4 looks different than explained last summer.
"It is related to search warrants for terroristic activity, weapons of mass destruction, evidence related to violent offenses," Stivers said Tuesday.
Instead of banning no-knock warrants entirely, the bill would require that the court find "clear and convincing evidence" that the crime alleged would qualify a person as violent before issuing the warrant. It requires that no-knock warrants be served only between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. Only if the court finds substantial and imminent risk of those executing the warrant can it be served outside those designated hours.
The bill also outlines how a no-knock warrant must be obtained and served. The legislation requires the officer seeking the warrant to have approval from a supervisor, consult with a commonwealth attorney or county attorney and disclose to the judge any other attempts to serve warrants on the individual. If the bill becomes law, a judge must legibly sign the warrant. This was an issue uncovered by a KyCIR-WDRB News investigation.
Those serving the no-knock warrant must be members of a special weapons and tactics team or another established, trained team. Those law enforcement members would be required to have body camera devices turned on while serving the warrant.
While there are several exceptions, Stivers said the bill would prevent tragedies like the one at Taylor's apartment.
"You're not going to have a situation that occurred here where you're going to create a no-knock search warrant to search for papers, stolen items, drugs, anything like that," he said.
At the same time, Stivers said the bill doesn't handcuff law enforcement.
"I think they understand the balance that needs to be there between individual rights, what the need is for a no-knock situation and the protection of the public," he said.
Rep. Attica Scott, D-Louisville, is the sponsor of Breonna's Law, a bill that would ban no-knock warrant entirely. Scott voiced her frustrations with Senate Bill 4 on Twitter.
There is absolutely no reason to file a separate bill. Kentuckians are paying white republicans in Frankfort to be blatantly racist. We always get asked if our legislative efforts are bipartisan, but they aren't asked why it disgusts them to follow the lead of Black people. https://t.co/ZT6Ni6JGVA— Attica Scott (@atticascott4ky) February 23, 2021
"The bill isn’t even named after Breonna Taylor," she said in a following Tweet.
Fellow Democrat, Sen. Gerald Neal, D-Louisville, is considering co-sponsoring Senate Bill 4. He told reporters Tuesday that he's still reading through the language and that it would be only one small step in the right direction for the legislature.
"There's a lot of other areas that relate to questions of police accountability and so forth that need to be addressed," he said.
The bill is expected to be heard in committee this week.
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