Civil Rights
10:46 am
Wed February 19, 2014

Texas Civil Rights Project Drawing Attention To Statewide "No-Knock" Warrant Policies

The Texas Civil Rights Project, a statewide civil rights group, is putting pressure on law enforcement groups and the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement, asking them to create a standard "no-knock" written policy.

The Texas Civil Rights Project released a study this week pointing to a lack of uniformity when comes to police executing "no-knock" warrants -- when police enter a home without knocking for fear that doing so would cause the wanted person to flee or get rid of illegal drugs. 

Texas Civil Rights Project’s Jim Harrington said the survey shows just under 30 percent of police and sheriff departments in the state have a written policy for when officers can enter a home unannounced.

"So three out of four Texans are in jurisdictions that have no written 'no-knock' policy and that dangerous -- dangerous for the officer, obviously, and dangerous for the citizen," Harrington said.

Recently in Burleson County, a sheriff deputy carried out a “no-knock” search warrant and the person living there shot and killed the officer for fear that he was an intruder -- the man who shot the officer was not indicted.

"A lot of what we are trying to do is preventative and trying to encourage everybody to develop these written policies -- what the standards are and with the idea that we can avoid these sorts of situations," Harrington said. "And just general police to respect people’s rights to be secure in their house, that’s a requirement of a 4th Amendment."

Harrington said 92 percent of all warrants served in San Antonio were the result of "no-knock" searches.

In 2006 the U.S. Supreme Court relaxed the laws guiding law enforcement's use "no-knock" warrant searches, but Harrington said the language of the court's opinion was broad and it didn't require states to institute a uniform training policy for police officers on when they could and could not use the "no-knock" practice.

Harrington is asking the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement to develop a standard that requires all police officers to have the same type of training when comes to “no-knock” searches.