Police claim they need “no-knock” warrants to pursue murderers and violent criminals. But, this rarely seems to be the case. In reality, no-knock warrants are a tool that law enforcement used to beef up the war on drugs in the 1980s, and cops have continued to use them mainly for that purpose ever since.
No-knock warrants allow police to enter a building without knocking or announcing themselves. This creates an element of surprise. Law enforcement apologists claim boosts officer safety and keeps criminals from destroying evidence. But oftentimes, the reaction of surprised occupants, often awakened from a dead sleep, leads to a violent police response.
That’s what happened to Breonna Taylor.
The 26-year-old woman was in bed with her boyfriend Kenneth Walker in the early-morning hours of March 13 when Louisville police broke into her home executing a no-knock warrant issued earlier that day. Walker claims he heard banging on the door but never hear anybody say “police.” When the officers broke down the door, Walker fired a shot, hitting an officer in the leg. Police returned fire, killing Taylor. She suffered at least eight gunshot wounds.
Taylors death sparked a movement to do away with no-knock warrants. Police insist they need them to catch dangerous criminals. But more often than not, they are employed in run-of-the-mill drug raids, not in pursuit of murders and rapists as police claim.
Let’s take for example the case of Lexington, Kentucky. Currently, the City Council is embroiled in a legal battle with a police union after passing a ban on “no-knock” warrants earlier this year. Fraternal Order of Police attorney Scott Crosbie said police believe the no-knock warrants will keep them safe and that they should remain on the table as a bargaining tool. According to the FOP, Lexington is experiencing a 67 percent increase in homicides, combined with staffing shortages. But what does this have to do with “no-knock” warrants?
The implication seems to be that without the “no-knock” warrants, police will be put in danger as they try to apprehend violent and dangerous criminals such as murderers and rapists. But the Lexington Herald-Leader obtained copies of past no-knock warrants in 2020. All of the cases were drug-related – no murderers were apprehended.