Task Force makes recommendations for reform of search warrants

FRANKFORT, Ky. – After nearly a year and nine meeting discussions, the Attorney General’s Search Warrants Task Force made eight recommendations for reform.

What would you like to know

  • The Attorney General’s Search Warrants Task Force was formed in January to examine possible reforms
  • The working group approved a list of recommendations at its last meeting on Thursday
  • The recommendations touch on several areas, such as record keeping, training, who can approve search warrants and how the police should execute those warrants.

“I am proud of the work this group has done in several meetings,” said Attorney General Daniel Cameron. “And happy that we are able to build consensus and come together for these recommendations which I believe will ultimately help build confidence in the search warrant process, improve public safety and help our communities.” law enforcement. “

The recommendations touch on several areas:

  1. As soon as possible, all state and local agencies empowered to execute search warrants should use an electronic platform operated by the Courts Administration Office to manage these warrants; hard copies of search warrants should be kept as a backup.
  2. Agencies signing search warrants should track where the warrants are served. These locations should be published regularly in a manner accessible to the public. The format should allow the public to compare the number of search warrants served in various postcodes and regions of the Commonwealth.
  3. The format should not reveal addresses for which search warrants have been requested or obtained.
  4. In the absence of an emergency, a prosecutor must review and approve a proposed search warrant before the investigating agency seeks judicial authorization for the warrant.
  5. Law enforcement officers should receive search warrant training early in their careers and, thereafter, should receive regularly updated training. The curriculum should include: a search warrant form and mandatory items; precisely describing the property to search for; develop and articulate the probable cause; time limits for probable cause and execution of warrants; security concerns for officers and citizens during the execution of warrants; and proper documentation of an executed search warrant.
  6. All law enforcement agencies should adopt, apply, and regularly update written policies and procedures that govern the service of search warrants in their jurisdiction. An example of these policies and procedures can be found in Appendix 4.
  7. For each search warrant requested, law enforcement officials should consider, along with other relevant factors, the most appropriate time of day for service.
  8. Whenever the service of a search warrant may have an impact on a minor, child protection services must be notified.
  9. Commonwealth law enforcement agencies should adopt some form of toolkit to guide the execution of search warrants.

Cameron said the recommendations are broad enough that they can work in cities like Louisville, or in smaller towns and counties across the state.

“There were many people part of this process who represented the 120 counties and were proud of the work they ultimately did. “

Draft recommendation seven included language that social services should be notified before a search warrant was executed, but some members of the task force, including Bullitt County Sheriff Walt Sholar, wanted this to be deleted because they were afraid to inform suspects.

The recommendations were approved almost unanimously. Ramon McGee, an attorney representing the NAACP on the task force, wrote a letter specifically criticizing recommendation three. He was not present at Thursday’s meeting due to a work obligation.

Campaigners have called for a change in the way search warrants are handled following the death of Breonna Taylor during the execution of a search warrant in March 2020.

Cameron said it was his job to participate in the discussion regarding law enforcement tactics, including Taylor’s case.

“I think you have seen here, during these meetings, well-meaning and good faith men and women coming together to find ways to build confidence in the search warrant process, but also to strengthen the public security. , too, ”he said.

The task force will bring these recommendations to the General Assembly for consideration by lawmakers in the next session.

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