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Limited No-Knock Warrants: Necessary Or Still Too Risky?

AP Photo/Steven Senne

City leaders began revisiting Lexington police department policies Tuesday, with an eye toward addressing those that have come under intense scrutiny amid massive demonstrations across the nation. One item on the agenda was no-knock warrants.

Louisville recently moved to ban the warrants in the wake of the death of Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old Louisville EMT who was shot multiple times and later died after a raid on her home. Lexington has placed a moratorium on them — with an exception for cases where police believe they can save someone's life. In addition to going through many level of review, those warrants would need approval from the mayor.

During a special meeting of the city's planning and public safety committee, Chief Weathers explained why he's hesitant to endorse an across-the-board ban.

"I would hate to think that I had a chance to save somebody's life and I didn't have the option to do so because of something that was permanently set in place," the chief said. "That worries me."

Weathers, who is the second African-American to lead the city's police, said the department has only resorted to no-knock warrants about four times in the last five years. But 11th District Representative Jennifer Reynolds worried that the cons may still outweigh the pros, even if the warrants are curtailed.

Her concern: "Because this is something that's not used all the time, the risk of losing life when doing one of these on a rare occasion might outweigh the benefit of having the option to do them."

The planning and public safety committee is expected to hold a separate meeting solely to gather public opinion on no-knocks and a host of other issues raised by protesters.

Josh James fell in love with college radio at Western Kentucky University's student station, New Rock 92 (now Revolution 91.7). After working as a DJ and program director, he knew he wanted to come home to Lexington and try his hand in public radio.
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