Public Safety Committee approves “Breonna’s Law” an Ordinance to regulate no-knock warrants and the use of body cameras in all search warrants

June 3, 2020

Louisville – In a unanimous vote, the Public Safety Committee of the Louisville Metro Council has approved “Breonna’s Law” to regulate and provide specific guidelines for the use of no-knock warrants by Louisville Metro Police officers.

The Ordinance was proposed following the shooting death of Breonna Taylor on March 13th during a drug raid at her apartment. She was killed during the raid where a no-knock warrant was used.

“Breonna’s Law will save lives. Breonna Taylor – we must say her name. This dedicated 26-year-old woman lived, trained and worked to save lives. This law will provide transparency and accountability at multiple levels,” said Councilwoman Barbara Sexton Smith (D-4), a primary sponsor of the Ordinance. “Our citizens have a right to expect the police to follow common sense standards of behavior and tactics as they enforce the laws to protect us. An Ordinance will help guarantee this right. I want to save lives NOW!”

“This is a moment when the community has clearly told its elected representatives that something must be done. This Ordinance is the first step in a long process of future reforms that will guarantee the safety of the people we represent while respecting the rule of law,” said Councilwoman Jessica Green (D-1) who chairs the committee and is also a primary sponsor of the Ordinance  “I am proud to honor the life of Breonna Taylor. May these changes prevent any future tragedies where the law is unclear when it comes to public safety and the rights of our citizens.”

The Ordinance spells out how no-knock warrants are to be used specifically and how they will be obtained by LMPD.

No-knock warrants may be obtained only in cases involving imminent threat of harm or death to law enforcement and/or to civilians, which shall be limited to the following offenses: murder, hostage taking, kidnapping, terrorism, human trafficking and sexual trafficking.

 It states the no-knock warrant must be specific in why it is needed instead of a conventional search warrant. The Chief of Police or his or her designee will approve use of the no-knock warrant. The designee must have the rank of a Major or higher. The no-knock warrant must be executed by a SWAT team.

The new law requires the Metro Council’s Public Safety Committee be informed quarterly on how no-knock warrants are requested by LMPD, how many are issued by the courts, how many are executed by LMPD officers, and finally the number of injuries and fatalities suffered, if any, by police officers and by civilians in the execution of no-knock search warrants, and the locations of where the no-knock warrants are executed. The committee will ascertain that the spirit of the law is being followed.

There is also a provision that all officers serving a no-knock warrant will wear body cameras to be turned on five minutes prior to the execution of the warrant. The body camera will not be deactivated until five minutes after the warrant has been served. The body camera video will be maintained on record for five years.

Joining Sexton Smith and Green as sponsors of Breonna’s Law are Council members Barbara Shanklin (D-2), Keisha Dorsey (D-3), Donna Purvis (D-5), David James (D-6), Paula McCraney (D-7), Brandon Coan (D-8), Bill Hollander (D-9), Pat Mulvihill (D-10), Mark Fox (D-13), Cindi Fowler (D-14), Kevin Triplett (D-15), Markus Winkler (D-17)), Anthony Piagentini (R-19), Nicole George (D-21), Madonna Flood (D-24), and David Yates (D-25).

The Ordinance now moves forward for final approval at the June 11th meeting of the Metro Council. Councilwoman Green called a special meeting of the Public Safety Committee on Monday, June 8th to consider any further discussion related to the Ordinance.