A bill that places more restrictions on no-knock warrants passed unanimously in the Kentucky Senate on Thursday (Feb. 25). The legislation was introduced as a response to the death of Breonna Taylor, who was killed by police when they used a no-knock warrant last March.
In the months after Taylor’s death, it was revealed that false information was used by police to obtain the search warrant for her home, which the new bill appears to address. The legislation proposes that no-knock warrants only be issued in cases 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 also have to be served between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m.
Republican Senate President Robert Stivers sponsored the bill and said, “If this law had been in place and the officers followed it... [Taylor] would be here.”
The legislation also requires officers to take more steps in order to obtain no-knock warrants and says the judges who approve them must sign legibly. On the Senate floor, Stivers claimed that no-knock warrants are still needed in instances of terrorism, weapons of mass destruction and kidnapping.
The bill will now move on to the Kentucky House for a vote.
Some have accused the legislation of not going far enough. In June, Kentucky Democrat Rep. Attica Scott introduced Breonna’s Law, which would effectively ban no-knock warrants and require officers to turn on their body cameras while serving a warrant or whenever a deadly civilian shooting occurs.
Breonna’s Law was unanimously approved in Louisville by the city council, but Scott says it “hasn’t even been assigned to a committee” to pass beyond the House and potentially be adopted statewide.
“[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 said. “What political oppression looks like is the bill that we filed, House Bill 21, hasn’t even been assigned to a committee yet.”
Democratic state Sen. Gerald Neal approved of Stivers’ bill, but also said more would need to be done to improve policing in Kentucky.
“It’s not enough because the problems we face go deeper than no-knocks,” he said. “Our problems are broader; they are deeper. They’re going to require a long-term willingness to understand and do those things that serve us all.”