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'No Knock' Warrant Bill Adds Guardrails, Stops Short Of Full Ban

Arlo Barnette

A bill limiting the use of "no knock" warrants by Kentucky police is on its way to the state Senate, but the Republican-led reform effort forgoes the full ban favored by activists.

Rather than remove no knock warrants from the police toolkit, Senate Bill 4 instead places more controls on when and how they can be used.

If approved, the controversial warrants could only be issued in cases with "clear and convincing evidence" of a violent crime or if giving notice would endanger the life or safety of any person or result in the loss of evidence. Officers seeking the special warrant would be required to gain approval from a supervising officer, consult with Commonwealth's or county attorneys, and disclose to the judge any other attempts to obtain the warrant.

The no knock tactic came under heavy scrutiny in the wake of the death of Breonna Taylor, who was killed during a police raid in Louisville. Bill sponsor Republican Senate President Robert Stivers told WKYT no matter what an individual is involved in, he or she should be afforded basic rights, such as counsel and trial by jury.

"This young lady was denied that by a series of bad police judgments," he said. "And this bill hopes to correct that."

While the bill doesn't go as far as racial justice advocates would like, it does have bipartisan support -- including a Black Democratic co-sponsor, Lexington senator Reggie Thomas.  

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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