Virginia Becomes Third State To Ban No-Knock Search Warrants Gov. Ralph Northam announced the signing of a series of police reform bills on Wednesday.
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Virginia Becomes Third State To Ban No-Knock Search Warrants

Gov. Northam announced the signing a slate of police reform measures Wednesday. Tyrone Turner/DCist/WAMU hide caption

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Tyrone Turner/DCist/WAMU

Gov. Ralph Northam announced Wednesday that he signed legislation that bans no-knock search warrants, making Virginia the third state to do so.

It is among a series of police reform bills that include measures to limit the use of neck restraints, reduce the militarization of police equipment, standardize law enforcement training requirements, and strengthen the process to decertify officers when necessary.

"Too many families, in Virginia and across our nation, live in fear of being hurt or killed by police," Northam said in a press release. "These new laws represent a tremendous step forward in rebuilding trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve."

Del. Lashrecse Aird, a Democrat, sponsored House Bill 5099, which blocks officers from seeking, executing, or participating in the execution of a no-knock search warrant. She argued that while such warrants are rare, they are primarily used in communities of color, USA Today reported.

The bill also requires that warrants are only executed in the daytime, unless law enforcement can show a judge or magistrate good cause for doing otherwise (it does not apply search warrants for the withdrawal of blood).

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Florida and Oregon and already ban no-knock warrants. A push to ban them in other states and jurisdictions gained traction following the killing of Breonna Taylor by police in Louisville in March, when police executed a no-knock warrant at her apartment. In June, the Louisville Metro Council unanimously passed an ordinance called "Breonna's Law" banning no-knock warrants.

Among the other bills Northam signed were House Bill 5049, which reduces the militarization of police, blocking law enforcement from getting or using equipment like grenades, high caliber firearms, and weaponized aircraft (Northam amended the bill to clarify that law enforcement can get waiver to use restricted equipment for search and rescue missions), and House Bill 5109, which creates minimum training standards for officers across the commonwealth. Those include training on de-escalation techniques, the awareness of racism, and the potential for biased profiling.

Northam also signed several other measures, including one requiring officers to intervene when they see colleagues using or attempting to use excessive force, and another enabling localities to create civilian law enforcement review boards.

"Virginia is better, more just, and more equitable with these laws on our books," Northam said.

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