Police and other law enforcement searching for evidence can be an essential part of the prosecution building their case against a criminal defendant. Regardless of whether you have anything to hide, the process of people searching through your home and possessions can be terrifying.
In the last year, there have been incidents that have called the no-knock warrant into question for citizens across the country. In many areas, including Chicago, legislators and other leaders are considering ways to protect people from dangerous and illegal searches.
Here’s what you should know about no-knock search warrants.
Where has it gone wrong?
The incident last year that included Breonna Taylor’s death was not the only time a police search has gone wrong. However, her death struck a chord with many people and has been a catalyst for change in how law enforcement officers execute search warrants.
The inherent issue with a no-knock search is that the officers start interacting with aggression, and the subject is caught by surprise and therefore feeling defensive. Both of these factors tend to lead to a very confrontational situation.
What is changing?
Often the legislative process can feel very slow. Making changes to no-knock warrants is no exception. While there are currently only a few cities that have taken action, many more are considering the best way to handle no-knock warrant situations in the future. Some cities are making changes, such as:
- Mandating the use of police body cameras
- Limiting what types of officers can conduct searches
- Limiting no-knock warrants to “exigent circumstances”
- Complete bans on no-knock warrants
- Requiring officers to knock and identify themselves before entry
Chicago Mayor Lightfoot is also pushing for changes. Currently, the proposed legislation includes several reforms, such as:
- Banning no-knock warrants, “except in s except in specific cases where lives or safety are in danger”
- Requiring all warrants (including regular warrants) to have approval from a deputy police chief or higher-ranking officer.
- Allowing only SWAT teams to serve no-knock warrants
- Requiring a planning session before the search to identify vulnerable people
While these reforms cannot undo past damage, it is an effort to make the execution of further search warrants safer and give officers stricter guidelines for maintaining public safety.