After a year marked by police killings of Blacks and civil unrest over racial injustice, some activists are taking aim at police tactics that can lead to deadly middle-of-the-night raids they say are used overwhelmingly in communities of color, the Associated Press reports. A group of academics, policing experts and activists called Campaign Zero has created model legislation around no-knock warrants they hope will be attractive to cities, states and President-elect Joe Biden. SWAT team and tactical drug raids — in which heavily armed police teams break down doors — have ballooned from about 3,000 in the early 1980s to more than 60,000 annually in the last few years, mostly because of drugs and drug task forces,says criminologist Peter Kraska of Eastern Kentucky University.
Generally, police must knock and announce their presence when serving a warrant, meaning they must wait before entering a property. With no-knock warrants, officers don’t have to say anything and don’t have to wait. That’s because the warrants are reserved for dangerous moments or if suspects are likely to destroy evidence if they are alerted to officers’ presence. “There has been an historic issuance of no-knock warrants for inappropriate purposes, basically for fishing expeditions for drug evidence,” said Kraska, who helped Campaign Zero write its recommendations. Kraska said the raids happen disproportionately in communities of color. Officers were executing such a warrant in Kentucky when 26-year-old emergency medical technician Breonna Taylor was fatally shot. Just banning the warrants isn’t enough, because the raids would continue in other ways, said Campaign Zero manager Katie Ryan. That’s why the group has included other reforms in its proposal: requiring officers to be in uniforms that make them identifiable, requiring warrants to be served between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. and requiring officers to know when asking for the warrant who lives at the residence.