Police lights

By Zach Armstrong

RICHMOND, Va -- Legislation introduced by Del. Lashrecse Aird (D-63rd) prohibiting the use of no-knock search warrants passed the Virginia House of Delegates Friday by a party-line vote of 56-41.

Bill HB5099 prevents any law-enforcement officer from participating in the execution of a no-knock search warrant, requires a law-enforcement officer to provide notice of his authority and make it so that any evidence obtained from a search in violation of this law cannot be used as evidence in any prosecution.

“We’re one step closer to ensuring our public safety officers who put their lives at risk daily, as well as those they come in contact with, are that much safer,” said Delegate Aird in a press release. “These door busting techniques have often led to significant violence leaving officers and individuals involved traumatized and distraught.”

The bill was one of nearly a dozen overhauling police practices that passed the House of Delegates on Friday. Bills that passed include requiring any officer to report the misconduct of another, ban sexual relations between officers and arrestees, banning the use of chokeholds, and strengthening the review of employment records before an officer is hired.

Republicans expressed their opposition to the laws as being anti-police and irrational wishing Democrats were more willing to compromise.

 “Much of the legislation rammed through today by Democrats had the potential to be thoughtful reforms of how police do businesses,” said House Republican Leader Todd Gilbert (R-Shenandoah) in a statement after Friday’s session. “Sadly, the majority was so bent on punishing law enforcement that they refused to listen to reason.”

Efforts have been made nationwide to ban no-knock search warrants since the death of Breonna Taylor in March. Taylor, a 26-year-old emergency medical technician, was fatally shot by Louisville Metro Police Department officers who erroneously believed she was in possession of controlled substances and entered her home while executing a no-knock search warrant.

The tragedy led the LMPD Police Chief Steve Conrad to announce his retirement and the department to require all sworn officers to wear body cameras and change how it carries out search warrants.

Similar legislative efforts have been made at the federal level. Congressional democrats introduced the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act to the House of Representatives in June. The law would attempt to counter excessive police violence by prohibiting no-knock warrants, require officers to have body-worn cameras and restricting qualified immunity for officers.

The bill passed the Democratic controlled house by a party-line vote of 236-181. President Donald Trump has expressed his opposition to the legislation and it is not expected to pass the Republican controlled Senate.