BATON ROUGE – A bill that would restrict law enforcement officials from using no-knock warrants and chokeholds advanced Tuesday.
Sen. Cleo Fields, D-Baton Rouge, moved his bill, SB34, through the Senate Judiciary B Committee, and it will next go to the Senate floor. The bill restricts law enforcement officers from conducting no-knock warrants at night and from using chokeholds, and it calls for more cameras to increase accountability.
Sen. Gregory Tarver, D-Shreveport said, however, that he would debate the restriction on no-knock warrant on the Senate floor as “most bad things happen at night.”
“I think we need to have a very serious discussion about this,” Talbot said. “When a judge assigns it, they ought to be able to do this thing at night or day. As long as it’s legal and they follow the rules and regs.”
Rebekah Taylor, program manager at the Louisiana Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of Criminal Justice, sat with Fields as he introduced his bill and said it gave the courts clarity on how these warrants are being served.
“The officers are not announcing themselves as they entering a residence based on a warrant that’s been signed by a judge,” said Talbot. “This legislation would prohibit those types of warrants from being executed, except when probable cause has been shown.”
Lt. Robert Burns of the Louisiana State Police said the practice of serving no-knock warrants has “greatly diminished” over the years.
“We do a lot more of what’s called a surround-and-call-out where we protect all entrances and exits of a property, and we use as many tactics as we can to try to gain communication with occupants of the property,” said Burns.
Ending no-knock warrants has been part of the Black Lives Matter agenda. The organization cities that Breonna Taylor was shot and killed in March 2020 by Louisville police officers while serving a no-knock warrant at night.
The Baton Rouge Police Department has banned chokeholds since 2017. But a video was posted to social media websites as a BRPD officer used a chokehold while detaining a 13-year-old child in February. Activists have called for the body camera footage to be released, but it has not been made public due to the child’s age.
Fields’ bill would restrict neck holds statewide, except when for when an officer reasonably believes that they are in a risk of great bodily harm.
The bill provides funding for more law-enforcement body cameras and for dash cams that start to record when the emergency lights are turned on from a vehicle.
The bill was a collaborative effort, as Fields worked with the Louisiana Sheriffs’ Association, the Louisiana State Police, the Chief of Police Association, the Fraternal Order of Police and the Attorney General.
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