FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT) - A bipartisan group of Kentucky lawmakers has announced they are drafting legislation for the 2021 General Assembly that would severely restrict the use of no-knock search warrants, such as the one that led to the death of Breonna Taylor in Louisville earlier this year.
Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, said he has had many discussions with people surrounding the incident, in which Taylor’s boyfriend thought someone was trying to break into the residence and fired a shot, wounding one officer. Police returned fire and Taylor was shot to death.
The police said they were trying to serve a no-knock warrant because they believed there were drugs inside. No drugs were ever found.
“This is in no way to be a partisan issue, a chamber issue or a political issue,” he said. “It’s one that we all need to come together and think about the best way to address what has been termed a no-knock search warrant. That was what was executed that night that led to a bad set of circumstances and facts.”
Stivers says he began discussing with law enforcement, the Kentucky Association of Counties, the Kentucky League of Cities, police chief and sheriffs about appropriate remedies and began drafting legislation dealing with the issue.
“There is not a place in law enforcement for a no-knock search warrant,” Stivers said. “That’s the first thing people need to take away from this.”
There would be provisions for such things as hostage situations, where a secondary warrant would have to be obtained.
Sen. Gerald Neal, D-Louisville, said there have been discussions across the aisle. “I think we agree that this should be a nonpartisan, nonpolitical piece; that we are all in this together and we have to do the right thing and get to effective results.”
Neal acknowledged that this is a starting point, “because obviously there is a lot more to be done beside no-knocks. But no-knocks are symbolic of what has stimulated the reactions in Louisville and across the nation, quite frankly, and around the world, even.”
He added, “History will not be kind to us, if we do not take advantage of this opportunity to do that which is right.”
Sen. John Schickel, R-Union, noted, “This isn’t something that just happened with this one case. I believe it has accumulated over time. I think this is something that is needed, so I’m glad the Senate president is having the legislation drafted.”
Schickel said there is a lot of consensus on this issue. “For a lot of people, this is a civil liberty issue, it’s an order issue and it’s also a safety issue. A no-knock search warrant comes in direct conflict with our current ‘stand your ground’ law, which we passed several years ago, and I support.”