LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Lawmakers in Carson City have begun considering a bill that would significantly limit no-knock warrants, one where police serve a search warrant without knocking or identifying themselves as police officers, in an attempt at reforming police practices in response to nationwide protests against police brutality and systemic racism.
Senate Bill 50 would, if passed, require law enforcement agencies to show a magistrate that serving a traditional search warrant would endanger the safety or lead to the destruction of evidence.
Police would have to present sworn affidavits as proof.
Attorney General Aaron Ford told lawmakers on the Judiciary Committee that no-knock warrants have endangered subjects and officers citing a New York Times study that found 81 civilians and 13 officers were killed during no-knock warrant services between 2010 and 2016.
"From the perspective of the subject, he or she only knows that armed subjects have violently entered their premises," Ford said, "and in those immediate moments, he or she does not know their intent. An armed subject may reasonably believe that the officers serving the warrant are home invaders and respond accordingly. The situation is then rife with danger for both law enforcement and subjects."
Ford acknowledged political unrest in the wake of a no-knock warrant search leading to the death of Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky.
Ford said the bill wouldn't ban no-knock warrants because they can be useful when officers need the element of surprise to protect themselves or preserve evidence.