The Republican president of the Kentucky Senate filed a bill that would restrict “no-knock” search warrants, the type of warrant used in the Louisville police raid that killed Breonna Taylor last year.
Senate Bill 4 would still allow no-knock warrants to be issued in cases where someone allegedly committed a violent crime, or if giving prior notice would endanger someone’s life or result in the loss of evidence related to a violent crime.
Senate President Robert Stivers, a Republican from Manchester, said the Breonna Taylor raid wouldn’t have happened under his proposal.
“You’re not going to have a situation that occurred here that you’re going to create a no-knock search warrant to search for papers, stolen items, drugs, anything like that,” Stivers said.
“This is going to be related to potential violent situations, and that’s it.”
Louisville police shot and killed Taylor in her apartment in March 2020 while executing a search warrant related to a drug investigation. No drugs or cash were found at the apartment.
When a judge approves a no-knock warrant, Stivers’ bill would require specially-trained police officers like SWAT units to serve warrants, wear body cameras and only to enter property between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m., except in some emergency situations.
The bill also requires police to get approval from a supervising officer and consult local prosecutors before serving warrants.
The measure is co-sponsored by Democratic Sen. Reggie Thomas, of Lexington, and Republican Sen. Danny Carroll, a former police officer from Paducah.
But the proposal is drawing fire from Democratic Rep. Attica Scott, sponsor ofBreonna’s Law for Kentucky, who said Stivers’ bill shows racial justice advocates are being “blatantly ignored in the political process.”
“This is part of that erasure of us and our work. It’s part of Kentuckians paying them to be blatantly racist, and I mean that with every fiber of my being,” Scott said.
“We’re closer to this pain, so we should be closest to the solutions.”
Scott’s bill goes farther than Stivers’; it includes a total ban on no-knock search warrants, creates penalties for officers who don’t turn on their body cameras and requires drug and alcohol testing of officers who fire their weapons.
Scott pre-filed her bill in August and says through multiple conversations, Stivers has had “no interest” in supporting her measure.
Scott’s bill has not been assigned to a committee in the Republican-led House.
Louisville Democratic Sen. Gerald Neal said he is still “scrutinizing” Stivers’ bill and that the legislature needs to look at other police accountability measures, too.
“There are a lot of issues out there, but I don’t think we’re going to get them all done in one gulp this session,” Neal said.
Stivers said he expected the bill to pass out of the state Senate by the end of the week. It will likely be heard in the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday.
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear issued an executive order on Tuesday recommending that all school districts offer some type of in-person learning starting March 1 or within a week of vaccinations for school personnel. The order recommends that classes resume seven days after teachers and staff have received their second COVID-19 vaccinations, though the decision is being left to districts.
The order also states that masks must be worn at all times in schools and during transportation to and from schools.
“This is one of the number one ways that we can keep everybody in that school safe,” Beshear said. “And it’s going to be incredibly important, especially for districts that may go back for the first time, that this is strictly enforced as all of the studies that suggest there is low transmission are of districts that had and enforced a strong mask mandate.”
Republican state lawmakers and U.S. Sen. Rand Paul are rallying around a yet-to-be-revealed bill that would make changes to Kentucky’s election laws, though it’s unclear what exactly the bill would do.
Rep. Jennifer Decker, a Republican from Waddy and the bill’s sponsor, said Thursday she won’t unveil the contents of the bill to the public or Democratic lawmakers until the day before the bill receives its first vote.
Decker said she has received input from county clerks, the State Board of Elections and current and former GOP officials.
“We combined our list and we’re paring it down in an attempt to include only those ideas that would help advance the goal of enhancing the integrity and trust in our election system,” Decker said.