The Kentucky state legislature passed a bill on Tuesday setting restrictions on warrants authorizing entry without notice, more commonly known as no-knock warrants, limiting the circumstances in which they can be used but failing to outlaw them outright, reports CNN. Some of the most notable changes in the bill from the current procedure include reserving no-knock warrants for situations that could be considered violent or an emergency, such as a kidnapping. The bill requires these warrants be approved by a supervisor and the highest-ranking officer in the department. Consultation with the jurisdiction’s county-level attorney is also required by the legislation. The bill also prohibits the warrants from being executed between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. and stipulates that they must be conducted by some type of special response team with a paramedic on site. All officers must have clear identification and some type of body camera or audio-visual equipment activated during the process.
Some of the new rules, like the timing of executing the warrant, have a clause that allows police to bypass them under “exigent circumstances,” or an emergency situation, and many of the restrictions also do not apply to counties with a population under 90,000 people. Only nine out of Kentucky’s 120 counties have a population bigger than 90,000. Dr. Pete Kraska, a criminologist at Eastern Kentucky University, told CNN that his biggest concern is the lack of specificity in what is and isn’t acceptable for these warrants, or the potential that officers will do the no-knock procedure without asking for the warrant. Historically, these types of warrants have been used for minor drug infractions, and it absolutely will curtail its use if the bill is passed, he said. But what he thinks is more likely to happen is that officers will not try to get a no-knock warrant and then cite “exigent circumstances” after using no-knock technique.