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Senate Bill 4, which limits no-knock warrants, awaits Beshear’s signature

Unlike Louisville’s Breonna’s Law, state measure does not fully ban no-knock warrants
Updated: Mar. 31, 2021 at 3:02 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Breonna’s Law placed a full ban on no-knock warrants in Louisville last year, but a statewide measure will allow them in limited scenarios.

Senate Bill 4 passed in the State House on Tuesday, 92-5, and now heads to Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear’s desk to get signed into law.

No-knock warrants sparked controversy last year following the botched police raid at Breonna Taylor’s apartment last year. Her death led to months of protests, as well as several pieces of police reform.

One former officer, Richard Pearson, worked 22 years in LMPD, and in its narcotics unit. He said he wrote and served numerous no-knock warrants.

”To say no-knock warrants are out altogether is just foolish,” he said.

Pearson said he feels police leadership should be responsible for stepping in when negative patterns are noticed, and adjust practices, not politicians. He added that politicians can step in on police policy’s, not tactics.

”I do think that a supervisor needs to sit down with the lead officer on the case, the officer that wrote the warrant, and go over each line to make sure everything the officer says was done was done in the investigative process,” Pearson said. “To make sure the warrant is as strong and as legitimate as possible.”

Senate Bill 4 stipulates that the warrant needs the approval of three people, officers be fully identifiable while serving the warrant and an EMT nearby.

None of those mandatory protocols existed for the warrant used at Taylor’s home. Her loved ones said they’re thankful these changes could help save lives. Taylor’s aunt, Bianca Austin, said it’s a step forward.

”It’s a good bill,” Austin said. “I think at the end of the day, even though it’s not named after Breonna, it still represents her as far as the no-knock. Because without her tragedy happening, the bill would have never made it to the floor.”

Austin said Senate Bill 4 wasn’t everything the family wanted, however, it tells them the community is moving in the right direction to reestablish a relationship with LMPD.

But Rep. Attica Scott, who presented House Bill 21 -- similar to Breonna’s Law, but with a complete ban on no-knock warrants, Senate Bill 4 doesn’t touch the surface. Scott said the people who were working on the legislation had no appetite for a full ban on no-knock warrants. She said the opportunity was available, however, they waited until the last hour of the legislative session to present her bill, leaving it without an opportunity for a vote, just discussion.

“This whole legislative session has been about performative politics from politicians in Frankfort,” Scott said. “So what they were saying Tuesday night about coming back and looking at a full ban of no-knock warrants is a political show. It’s political theater.”

Scott still voted for Senate Bill 4, saying that it gets the community closer to justice. The current legislative session is now over, but she said she knows those in leadership will get back to work and facilitate change in time for the next session.

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