ACTION BRIEF

No-Knock Warrants

Issue

The use of no-knock warrants has expanded over the past 25 years, implicitly redefining Americans’ 4th Amendment protection against unlawful government interference. The tragic deaths of Breonna Taylor, Michael Santana, Anthony Diotaiuto, Marcus Cass, and many others during the execution of no-knock warrants have prompted scrutiny of this practice. No-knock warrants are often obtained and executed to search for illegal drugs and weapons, but research suggests that a significant portion of these searches fail to produce the expected contraband. The controversial nature of no-knock warrants has led to increased calls for reform or outright bans on their use.


Key Statistics and Facts:

  • Each year, an estimated 20,000 to 80,000 no-knock warrants are served across the nation.
  • In one of the few departments where data is available, 92% of narcotics unit no-knock warrant requests were approved between 2016-2018, despite the department failing to specify the justification for these warrants, violating 4th Amendment constitutional rights.
  • Research suggests that 36% of no-knock search warrants, like the one used in Breonna Taylor’s case, failed to produce any illegal drugs, and 50% of those searches were executed on homes where no guns were found.
  • The New York Times examined open police and court records requests from 2010-2016 and found 81 civilian and nine officer deaths during the execution of no-knock warrants.
  • A 2020 poll revealed that 67% of respondents believe no-knock raids are more dangerous for everyone involved, including police officers, occupants, and bystanders.

 

Recommendations:

The Center for Justice Research (CJR) stands firmly in support of state and federal level measures that ban no-knock warrants. As state, local, and federal lawmakers, mayors, law enforcement, and other important stakeholders consider advancing police reform in their jurisdictions, CJR recommends the following:1. Permanent bans on no-knock search warrants.

  1. Training for police departments on the impact of surprise or no-knock entry tactics for citizens.
  2. Practical police training that informs police officers to adequately recognize and respond with appropriate force to avoid unlawful or unnecessary killings of unarmed citizens upon immediate entry.