Ohio attorney general seeks stricter standards for no-knock warrants

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost is asking the state legislature to review the standards a judge must consider before approving a no-knock warrant, but he does not want them eliminated.

Yost said no-knock warrants are rare in the state and should only be used during investigations of high-level cases where officers' safety is at risk.

“Executing a search warrant in cases involving drug dealers, human traffickers and other violent offenders is inherently dangerous for law enforcement,” Yost said in a statement. “When a warrant is sometimes necessary, officers should be properly equipped to make the safest entry possible, and a no-knock warrant – a waiver of the statutory “knock and announce” requirements – is the right tool to safeguard them.”

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No-knock warrants have become a topic of public safety conversation as demonstrators throughout the summer protested their use.

Yost said his goal is to tighten the requirements of no-knock warrants but not to eliminate them.

The changes the attorney general is seeking are: changing a statute to say that there must be a “substantial” risk of serious physical harm to officers during the execution of the warrant; clarifying that the phrase “good cause” means “probable cause” and does not mean “reasonable suspicion;” banning no-knock warrants on only misdemeanor drug-related cases; requiring officers wear readily identifiable police markings and announce themselves police as soon as possible; and requiring officers who have body cameras to turn them on and wear them during the execution.

“No-knock warrants are not common but being used more frequently than they have in the past, and Ohio is now a castle doctrine state, which means people are allowed to use deadly force to defend themselves in their home,” Yost said.

Yost said during a press conference with media Thursday that executing search warrants is one of the most dangerous jobs for officers. Dayton Police Detective Jorge Del Rio was killed last year during a search in which officers say they knocked and announced themselves.

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