No-knock warrants: Ohio AG Yost calls for changes, not elimination

Ohio AG Yost wants reform for no-knock warrants, not eliminate them

CINCINNATI (FOX19) - Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost announced Thursday he plans to ask state lawmakers to change requirements for law enforcement to obtain no-knock warrants rather than eliminate them amid national and local calls for police reform.

Debate over “no-knock warrants” comes following the death of Breonna Taylor, who was fatally shot in her residence by police who entered during a narcotics investigation in March.

Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron recently said that while the officers had a no-knock warrant, the investigation showed they announced themselves before entering. Taylor’s boyfriend then shot at police, saying he did not know who was coming in and fired in self-defense.

Louisville has since banned no-knock warrants and other cities including including Memphis, Tennessee, and states such as Florida have followed suit.

But Ohio’s top law enforcement official says that is not what he feels is best here to keep both law enforcement and communities safe.

He envisions increasing the requirements for law enforcement to obtain a no-knock warrant from a judge to keep both them and communities safe.

He outlined his plan Thursday in a virtual news conference with the support of three prosecutors of the state’s largest counties including Joe Deters in Hamilton County.

Currently, the warrant can be granted if there is “a risk” to officers.

“This is not a high enough standard,” Yost said.

He is calling for that to be changed to a “substantial risk” to officers.

The attorney general also wants to see the “good cause” requirement better defined.

His proposal would make the standard the same as the U.S. Constitution.

“We would like to see ‘good cause’ clarify to read or defined as equal to ‘probable cause,’” Yost said.

Other proposed changes to the current requirements for law enforcement to obtain no-knock warrants:

  • Misdemeanor drug possession is insufficient
  • Officers executing the warrant should be wearing identifying markers and announce themselves as police as soon as possible
  • Departments capable of equipping body cameras on officers need to do so and the cameras should be activated

“Executing a search warrant in cases involving drug dealers, human traffickers, and other violent offenders is inherently dangerous for law enforcement,” Yost said.

“When a warrant is sometimes necessary, officers should be properly equipped to make the safest entry possible, and a no-knock warrant – a waiver of the statutory “knock and announce” requirements – is the right tool to safeguard them.”

Cincinnati City Council has been discussing and considering a motion that would ban no-knock warrants.

Councilman Chris Seelbach introduced the motion earlier this year in light of Taylor’s death.

Seelbach originally wanted an outright ban but said he recently revised it after talking to national groups.

He now says would like to see the raids done in the daylight, and that they identify themselves, even in a no-knock raid.

Seelbach says his motion would allow for limited exceptions and is confident City Council will pass it.

Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters said Thursday he fully supports Attorney General Yost’s recommendations.

“No-knock warrants are rarely used in my jurisdiction, but it is necessary that law enforcement have this tool available to them,” Deters said.

“I wholeheartedly support the AG’s recommendations to the state legislature to ensure that no-knock warrants are used only in the most exceptional circumstances and that we do everything we can to make sure that both innocent civilians and law enforcement are protected.”

Deters said in the last five years there have been less than 10 no-knock warrants executed each year by the Cincinnati Police Department.

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