Wednesday, January 13, 2021

State Senators James Sanders Jr., And Law Makers Introduce Comprehensive Search Warrant Reform Legislation in NYS

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State Senators James Sanders Jr., Brian Benjamin and Assembly Member Daniel O’Donnell Introduce Comprehensive Search Warrant Reform Legislation in New York State, With Campaign Zero

State Senators James Sanders Jr. and Brian Benjamin, along with Assembly Member Daniel O’Donnell, today introduced a pioneering and comprehensive bill in the New York State Legislature that would restrict the use of dangerous No-Knock warrants and raids across the state. This legislation, developed in collaboration with Campaign Zero and police scholar Dr. Peter Kraska, will serve as a nationwide model for search warrant reform, addressing the systemic abuses that have cost lives, undermined trust, and caused incalculable damage across our state and country.

Senator Sanders' bill is S.11 for 2021. It is being carried by O'Donnell in the Assembly as bill number A.11171 for 2020 but it will have a new bill number in 2021.

State Senator James Sanders

In New York, a bill to reform how these warrants and raids are used has been languishing in the State Legislature for nearly two decades. Prompted by the unnecessary and tragic deaths of Breonna Taylor and others, these members of the State Senate and Assembly reignited this police accountability reform by introducing the boldest proposal yet that would regulate these military-like tactics used by police. This is also the first reform nationwide to receive 15 of 15 points using Campaign Zero’s model legislation rubric.

"We must stop the over-militarization of our communities," said Senator James Sanders Jr.  "The abuse of no-knock warrants disproportionally affects black and brown people and can often result in death as was seen in the tragic cases of Breonna Taylor, Alberta Spruill and too many others. Today, we are putting forth the most comprehensive, groundbreaking legislation in the nation when it comes to these police raids, which should only be used under extreme circumstances and with accountability."

The proposed bill will:
  • Restrict the issuance and execution of all No Knock warrants and raids by limiting them only to instances when human life is in jeopardy. 
  • Increase the application requirements, requiring officers to report age/gender/known disabilities of all occupants. 
  • Ensures warrants expire after 7 days and prevents the use of stale information (officers have to provide current evidence in the 24 hrs. before warrant execution). Breonna Taylor's evidence/surveillance was 60 days old when officers went to execute the warrant.
  • Add more specifics for how all warrants can be executed (i.e. officers required to be in uniform, must wait 30 seconds, and may not use flash bang grenades).
  • Add measures of oversight and accountability by making audio/video and warrant execution reports available for review by independent oversight.
  • “It’s hard to believe that anyone can argue that the public is well served by allowing armed officers to smash into a house out of the blue,” said State Senator Brian Benjamin. “How can this possibly be the safest way to arrest someone? We’ve seen hundreds like Breona Taylor killed or harmed because people decided that using these tactics was no big deal. We need to rein it in, and we need to do it now.”