End No-Knock Raids

MEMO_COVER_use_no+knock

Executive Summary

Police chiefs, elected leaders, and communities have known for decades that no-knock raids are unsafe and cause injury and death. There is also a growing sense that they are unnecessary and contribute to community distrust. For example, no-knock warrants are not reserved for the most egregious of crimes but instead are most commonly used to execute search warrants for illegal drugs. According to a 2014 report by the ACLU, about 36% of no-knock search warrants found no illegal drugs; half of the no-knock warrants were executed against residences where there were no guns.

Minor tweaks to policies controlling how no-knock raids are carried out are not enough to protect people from injury and death. Local and state governments should ban no-knock warrants and military-style raids. To do so, the following policies are recommended:

  • Ban no-knock warrants and affirmatively require law enforcement to always both knock and clearly identify themselves as law enforcement. 
  • Drastically limit the practice of so-called “quick knock” raids, where law enforcement knock and/or announce themselves and then immediately and forcibly enter the home. Quick-knock raids include “forced entries,” “dynamic entries,” and “military-style raids.” This type of entry should only be permissible where two conditions are met: 
    • The underlying investigation involves an offense that by its nature includes serious physical harm or death (e.g., murder, rape, terrorism, human trafficking); and
    • circumstances justify immediate entry to prevent imminent physical harm
      or death. 
  • The use of “quick knock” techniques, including “forced entries,” “dynamic entries,” and “military-style raids,” must be approved by the police chief or the chief’s designee, and reported to the city council or county board every three months.