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Ohio AG Dave Yost calls for tightening of no-knock warrant laws

Yost joined by county prosecutors from around Ohio
Election 2020-Ohio Republicans
Posted at 9:21 PM, Oct 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-16 11:09:38-04

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost unveiled new recommendations Thursday to tighten restrictions on no-knock warrants in the wake of Breonna Taylor's death in Louisville, Kentucky, earlier this year.

Yost, joined by Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters, Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Michael O’Malley and Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien, sought the support of Ohio's governor and state lawmakers to tighten the requirements for obtaining such a warrant.

Deters said no-knock warrants are used in only the most extraordinary circumstances. Over the course of five years, fewer than five arrests have been made using a no-knock warrant in Cincinnati.

Each state handles no-knock warrants differently. In Ohio, police must obtain one by going to a judge using an undefined term of “good cause.”

While serving the warrant, police must knock and announce their presence before entering.

Yost said the law needs to have probable cause.

“We’re asking that to be changed to a substantial risk of serious physical harm to officers,” Yost said during a press conference on Thursday.

On top of that, officers wouldn’t be able to obtain a no-knock warrant for any misdemeanor drug possession or paraphernalia charges. Officers would also have to activate body cameras while serving the warrant.

“The police in this state, and certainly in Hamilton County, aren’t busting down doors acting like a bunch of cowboys with these no-knock warrants,” Deters said.

Deters said those kinds of warrants are rarely used here.

“(The Cincinnati Police Department) has asked for less than 10 no-knock warrants, served less than five. You’re talking about thousands of search warrants carried out by CPD, and the reality of the fact is that no-knock warrants are a minuscule amount of the search warrants executed in Hamilton County,” Deters said.

The city of Cincinnati looked into the issue and determined the charter wouldn’t allow city council to dictate to police when those warrants can be used. That can only come through the city manager and mayor, going through “many reviews at the city level” before it reaches a judge.

He said while Cincinnati’s charter already makes it difficult to obtain a no-knock warrant, Yost’s recommendation for lawmakers will make it that much harder.

“I think our jurisdiction, our requirements are quite heightened to protect people from these, especially if it turns out to be a bad search warrant,” Deters said.

Deters, a Republican, is up for reelection this November. His Democratic opponent, retired Judge Fanon Rucker, issued the following statement on Thursday’s development:

“The idea that Joe Deters is now calling for reforms, after years of being part of the problem, is farcical. And it's particularly ironic that he got the old band together, doing a news conference with Dave Yost on the very day it was revealed that Yost was subpoenaed in the federal investigation around corrupt House Bill 6 -- an investigation that has already resulted in the indictment of Deters' former aide.

"My campaign has always been about making our community safer, and our system fairer. Today’s act is a testament to how much Hamilton County wants reform that Joe Deters is trying to steal our message.”

Read the AG’s letter, sent to Gov. Mike DeWine and state lawmakers, in the viewer below:

2020-10-15-No-Knock-Letter-(SIGNED) by WCPO Web Team on Scribd