At a premiere in Colorado, Aurora elected leaders banned police knock-out raids – the city leaders’ recent efforts to address law enforcement efforts that have been scrutinized nationwide.
The city council voted 7: 3 late on Monday to forbid the police from forcibly entering a property without first identifying themselves as an officer of the law. The measure was brought forward by Councilor Angela Lawson following the death of Breonna Taylor, who was shot dead by police in March while sleeping in her own home.
There is an ongoing argument about whether and how clearly the police identified themselves before entering Taylor’s Louisville, Kentucky, home.
“Although there is debate over the warrant issues related to Breonna Taylor’s death, I think it is important to take action to prevent such a tragedy from happening in our community,” Lawson said Tuesday.
Rep. Leslie Herod, D-Denver, who led the state Capitol’s police reform efforts, said she was “really proud that Aurora is moving us forward.”
While she has no commitments among colleagues to draft a bill on no-knock practices in the parliamentary term beginning in January, she said she was “fairly certain” that something would come up in the next session to deal with dealt with the topic.
Mark Silverstein, legal director of the Colorado ACLU, said his organization has long hoisted red flags over arrest warrants and the dangers they pose not only to residents of a target home but also to the police officers themselves.
“No-knock actions are a recipe for armed confrontation that will result in serious bodily harm or death,” said Silverstein.
He said the type of arrest warrant in Colorado poses a particular hazard based on the Make My Day Act of 1985, which allows homeowners to shoot and kill an intruder in self-defense if they believe the person intends to get one Committing crimes and using physical violence.
“If someone kicks in the door to your house, you have the right to shoot the intruder,” said Silverstein.
But Aurora Councilor Dave Gruber said the city is simply “piling up” police who have been scrutinized to deal with Elijah McClain’s fatal arrest last year and subsequent protests against his death.
“Our council has worked out regulation after regulation that is hostile to the police and has a major impact on crime in the city,” he said. “The pendulum has swung so far that crime is increasing and arrests are decreasing.”
Data from the city shows that since the beginning of the year through mid-September, serious violent crimes such as murder, assault and sexual assault rose nearly 25% over the same period in 2019. Meanwhile, arrests over the same period are down 35% in 2020 from a year earlier.
Gruber said that city ordinances targeting police practices, along with the police reform bill passed by lawmakers in June following the brutal death of George Floyd by the Minneapolis police force, have forced officials to seriously weigh up their willingness to get involved Calling for service for fear of violent interaction exposes them to civil or criminal liability.
No-knock warrants are rare and require a judge’s signature before they can be executed, Gruber said. But they are a critical tool that gives the police a “surprise advantage” when it comes to dangerous suspects who may reach for a weapon if they know officers are about to tear down the door.
As of 2018, Aurora police judges have issued 10 arrest warrants, although only five were actually executed this way, according to a city note.
“We reserve warrants for extremely dangerous suspects,” said Doug Wilkinson, vice president of the Aurora Police Association. “When you take this tool away, the world becomes more dangerous for everyone. Without the tool, SWAT is more likely to confront suspects in less controlled environments, increasing the likelihood of violence. “
The Aurora Police Department implemented a series of reforms this year after street protests against police practices across the country, including in Colorado’s third largest city. In June, the department banned holding carotid pressure and urged officials to intervene if a colleague violates the department’s guidelines during a contact.
Lisa Calderón, chief of staff for Denver City Councilor Candi CdeBaca, hopes Denver will follow Aurora’s lead.
She recalls the botched no-knock operation in 1999 that resulted in the death of Ismael Mena by a SWAT officer after Mena shot police officers who stormed his home. The police had gone to the wrong address in Denver because of a drug warrant.
“I find it sad that Denver still hasn’t picked up on this 21 years later,” she said.