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Kentucky task force recommends search warrant changes after Breonna Taylor's death

"The final recommendations reflect law enforcement's role in advancing public safety and acknowledge the personal protections guaranteed by our Constitution," Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, said on Thursday.
Timothy D. Easley
/
AP
"The final recommendations reflect law enforcement's role in advancing public safety and acknowledge the personal protections guaranteed by our Constitution," Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, said on Thursday.

Kentucky is another step closer to implementing search warrant reforms in the wake of the death of Breonna Taylor, who was killed by Louisville police using a "no-knock" warrant to enter her home last year.

The Search Warrant Task Force, assembled by state Attorney General Daniel Cameron, unveiled a series of recommendations in its final report on Tuesday. The guidelines include additional training for officers, a centralized electronic database that allows the public to track the number of warrants executed in each zip code, and other safety provisions.

Together they establish best practices for the effective and safe execution of search warrants, Cameron said.

"From the beginning, the goal of the Task Force has been to conduct a top to bottom review of the search warrant process and to make recommendations for establishing Kentucky as a national model for how search warrants should be pursued and served," the attorney general said in a statement.

He added: "The final recommendations reflect law enforcement's role in advancing public safety and acknowledge the personal protections guaranteed by our Constitution."

The task force included the chairs of the Kentucky Senate and House judiciary committees, two representatives appointed by the Chief Justice of Kentucky's Supreme Court, police members, a member of the Kentucky NAACP and three citizen appointments.

Members suggested that in non-emergency situations, a prosecutor should review and approve a proposed search warrant before the investigating agency seeks judicial authorization for the warrant. Officers should also consider the most appropriate time of day for executing a search, according to the task force. And, in circumstances when a child may be impacted by a search warrant, child protective services should be notified.

As for training, the curriculum for law enforcement officers should include lessons on "accurately describing the property to be searched; developing and articulating probable cause; time limitations for probable cause and execution of warrants; officer and citizen safety concerns in execution of warrants; and proper documentation of an executed search warrant."

In Taylor's case, the "no-knock" narcotics warrant that officers used to enter her home was obtained by a police detective who had not confirmed with the postal service that a suspected drug dealer – Taylor's former boyfriend – was having packages sent to Taylor's home.

In the early morning hours of March 13, police pounded on Taylor's front door before bursting into her apartment, where she was sleeping alongside a new boyfriend. Believing an intruder had broken in, he fired a single shot at one of the officers. They opened fire in return, shooting 32 bullets into the home. Six struck Taylor, killing her.

No-knock warrants have since been banned by Louisville's Metro Council. Two officers who were involved in Taylor's death were fired in January, however, no one was directly charged in her death.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Vanessa Romo is a reporter for NPR's News Desk. She covers breaking news on a wide range of topics, weighing in daily on everything from immigration and the treatment of migrant children, to a war-crimes trial where a witness claimed he was the actual killer, to an alleged sex cult. She has also covered the occasional cat-clinging-to-the-hood-of-a-car story.