DENVER (KDVR) — Across the nation, policies were formed following America’s confrontation with racism in the summer of 2020.
A case that sparked protests and calls for change then is the force behind a proposal getting ready for a vote now at the Colorado Capitol.
Lawmakers and law enforcement have been working on a policy regarding no-knock warrants for years. Their compromise is now steps away from the governor’s desk.
Back in 2020, the death of 26-year-old Breonna Taylor spurred calls for reform from across the nation, even right here in Colorado.
“Breonna Taylor should be turning 30 soon. We should be celebrating her for that. She is absolutely a central and essential reason for the existence of this bill,” said House sponsor Rep. Elisabeth Epps, D-Denver.
A study group looking into no-knock warrants and forced entry by police was created through the follow-up measure to Colorado’s sweeping police accountability law.
“Their biggest and most important finding, I would say, is this idea that hopefully we can all agree on, even law enforcement agrees, that the risk to human life is just not worth the goal of potentially preserving evidence,” Epps said of the study group.
The study group found that no-knock warrants are undesirable and should be avoided at all costs.
No-knock warrants would get new rules
This year’s proposal calls for search warrants by officers in Colorado to be done between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Officers would need to be in uniform or wearing a badge so they can be identified. They would also need to have their body cameras on when entering and knock and announce their presence at a volume loud enough for the officer to reasonably believe people inside can hear them and allow a reasonable amount of time before entering.
Police said they feel the bill will add some safeguards for all parties involved.
“Growing up, I think we all heard from our parents, ‘Nothing good happens after dark,’ or, ‘Nothing good happens after 10 o’clock.’ So the fact that we can get early permission or get permission at the time of the warrant I think cures that. So I think that’s reasonable hours during the day,” said Estes Park Police Chief David Hayes, also president of the Colorado Association of Chiefs of Police. “Law enforcement officers have made mistakes across the country, and what we are trying to do is that we are trying to be proactive and preventative, making sure our law enforcement officers and our community members and would-be defendants are also safe. Maybe it doesn’t match exactly what they are doing but they (the study group) certainly gave it a good start.”
This bill needs two more approval votes in the House before it heads to the governor’s desk. It passed with strong support in the state Senate.