NewsCovering Colorado


Agencies say no-knock warrants rarely used

Posted at 11:45 PM, Sep 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-24 01:45:47-04

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado — It's been widely reported that the police in Louisville, Kentucky had obtained a "no-knock" warrant to enter the home of Breonna Taylor on the night of March 13. However, Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron told reporters on Wednesday that his investigation showed the three officers who took part in the shoot did knock at her door and announce themselves before entering.

A no-knock warrant allows a law enforcement agency to enter a property without announcing themselves if there is a strong belief that doing so could lead to evidence being destroyed or that officer safety would be threatened. They are permitted under Colorado law. However, law enforcement agencies told News 5 said are not used frequently.

"For the most part, my experience is that they're very rarely sought after," said Douglas County Sheriff Tony Spurlock, a past president of the County Sheriffs of Colorado.

The Pueblo Police Department and El Paso County Sheriff's Office also told News 5 that their agencies had not used no-knock warrant for years.

Sheriff Spurlock explained that a key factor for deciding whether to request a no-knock warrant is the risk to public safety.

"If there was a circumstance where the public safety was at risk, and that was a grave concern, then I know law enforcement agencies seek those," he said.

Earlier this month, Aurora City Councilwoman Angela Lawson introduced a measure to ban the use of no-knock warrants in her community. Lawson told our news partners at KMGH Denver 7 that the Breonna Taylor shooting motivated her request.

"I'm looking at, who else could be in the house that could potentially be hurt and also the harm that the officer can have happen," Lawson said.

KMGH found that Aurora PD officers had received ten no-knock warrants over the past 3 years, but only served half of them. During that same period, 315 knock and announce warrants were granted.

Lawson's measure was referred to a study committee. She expects that it could come to a vote as soon as next month.

"A lot of this is not happening in Aurora, but what if it did," she said. "I think we need to be more proactive instead of being reactive; it could happen."

Spurlock explained that many agencies in Colorado follow best practices recommended by the Commission on Accreditation in Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA) when establishing internal policies for the use of no-knock warrants.

He also said police departments and sheriff's offices here frequently work together to encourage good training among their members.

"We do work very closely together, particularly the County Sheriff's of Colorado, to really work towards the best practices on implementing all of our the things that we do," he said.

Colorado's no-knock warrant statute requires the Colorado Division of Criminal Justice to review internal department policies related to the use of no-knock warrants.