Maine has become the latest state to restrict the use of “no-knock” warrants by police officers to apprehend criminal suspects.
Legislation signed recently by Gov. Janet Mills will limit the warrants to situations where police or people in a surrounding neighborhood might be at risk of death or bodily harm.
Under the new rules, a judge issuing the warrant will be required to verify the circumstances before, and police executing the warrant will be required to wear body cameras.
Attorney General Aaron Frey told a legislative panel earlier this year that he supports limits on no-knock warrants but doesn't want to see them go away completely.
“The availability of no-knock warrants requires a balance of legitimate risk to the physical safety of others against the inherent risks the execution of no-knock warrants create,” he said.
The Maine Chiefs of Police Association noted in recent testimony on the bill that no-knock warrants are rarely used but are necessary in certain circumstances.
“To prohibit their use entirely would likely result in injury or death that might have otherwise been avoided,” Edward Tolen, the group's executive director, said recently.
Mills has also signed a similar bill that requires local police agencies to develop a set of standards for the use of warrants to apprehend suspects.
The use of no-knock warrants has come under heightened scrutiny since the police shooting of Breonna Taylor in Kentucky.
Taylor, a 26-year-old emergency medical technician, was shot multiple times by police in March 2020 after they stormed her apartment. The warrant was later determined to be flawed.
Since then, at least five states – including Kentucky – have passed laws restricting or banning the use of no-knock warrants, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Legislation to restrict or ban the use of such warrants has been introduced in dozens of other states, the group said.
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