A Georgia state senator has announced a bill to limit the use of no-knock warrants. These warrants have gone from the exception to the rule
over the past several years, as our nation's drug warriors apparently labor under the assumption that drug dealers keep banker's hours.
Of course, no-knock raids have resulted in plenty of collateral damage -- both to cops
-- as the element of surprise tends to be bullet-and-flashbang heavy. It's the use of flashbang grenades that has prompted this new legislation, which unfortunately puts it into the category of "Laws Named After Victims," most of which are written badly and hastily.
The incident prompting this bill involved a 19-month-old toddler who was badly burned
by a flashbang that landed in his crib. The police claimed they had no idea children might be present in the home, despite nearly tripping over the toys scattered around the yard in their haste to raid a house over a $50 drug purchase from a person who didn't even live at the residence.
The law would forbid the use of no-knock warrants during nighttime hours… or so you would think before you read the exceptions
House Bill 56, sponsored by Rep. Kevin Tanner, R-Dawsonville, would, in most cases, bar the use of no-knock warrants between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.
It also requires law enforcement agencies to develop written policies and training for the use of the warrants, require a supervising officer to present when the warrant is executed, and requires police to swear that not using a no-knock warrant would pose “a significant and imminent danger to human life or imminent danger of evidence being destroyed.”
The last part of that sentence is the loophole. All it takes to acquire the "forbidden" no-knock warrant is for an officer to swear that "because reasons, most likely drugs/officer safety," no other type of warrant will do. If it passes the way it's written, it will end up preventing nearly nothing. Scott Greenfield sees this legislation as nothing more than a preemptive strike against further regulation of warrant service
While one might applaud Tanner for doing anything, perhaps this is offered as a stop-gap measure to prevent more significant, more real, limitations on the execution of warrants that put citizens lives at risk for the sake of protecting cops.
Tanner spent 18 years as a Dawson County sheriff’s deputy and has executed no-knock warrants himself.
Considering the overall uselessness of this "ban" on no-knock warrants, you'd think the police union would just keep its mouth shut and just be grateful no one has pushed for real oversight and reform. But no, the reps just can't help themselves. Any
additional requirements are unwelcome… always
"I don't think any changes are needed because it is not easy now," Mills said.
Define "easy," International Brotherhood of Police Officers union rep Carrie Mills. There's practically no oversight as it is. Most magistrate judges -- with few exceptions
-- are more than happy to sign off on anything a cop puts in front of them. And higher courts oblige this rubberstamping by carving up even more "good faith
" territory when granting immunity to law enforcement officers who screw up (accidentally or intentionally) their warrant apps.
Then Mills delivers this unbelievable statement, which is supposed to make us feel bad for poor cops facing a very slim possibility of having to cut back on their no-knocking, flashbanging raids.
"You have to draw the line between your right as a citizen to privacy and a community's right to live in a crime-free environment. You can't have them both," Mills said.
Oh, the old "freedom or security, but not both" argument, but badly paraphrased to fit the current situation. The protection of a right that doesn't actually exist ("right to live in a crime-free environment") supersedes a right acknowledged (and protected) by the Fourth Amendment.
Or to put it even more graphically -- considering the impetus for this proposed legislation: "You can live in a safe neighborhood or live a life free of horrific flashbang injuries, but not both." Those are your options as long as there's a war on drugs. And at the rate that war is going, it will be forever before law enforcement agencies agree to limit their use of no-knock warrants.