NYPD officials on Thursday defended their use of so-called “no-knock” warrants — as the tactic has faced a storm of criticism in the wake of Breonna Taylor’s killing by police in Louisville, Kentucky, last year.
“No knock warrants are a critical tool the NYPD uses to keep narcotics off the streets and to seize illegal firearms,” Chief of Department Rodney Harrison, a former undercover officer, told reporters at a press conference at One Police Plaza in Manhattan.
“Please allow me to dispel a number of rumors which I’ve heard,” he said. “First, just because a warrant says it’s no knock does not mean that we don’t make any announcements.”
He said the NYPD makes its presence “clearly known.”
“No knock simply means that we don’t have to wait for someone to open the door to a residence or a business in an attempt to make entry,” he said.
He added that officers conduct “numerous background checks” to make sure they have the right subjects and locations before conducting the warrants. The NYPD also trains its officer in “dynamic entry tactics.”
Harrison said the warrants are critical in preventing shootings that have left many innocent New Yorkers dead or wounded.
“The goal of a search warrant is to remove violent contraband from the streets in an attempt to save an Innocent New Yorkers life,” he said. “So we don’t have another Davell Gardiner, Priscilla Vasquez, Aamir Griffin, Gudelia Vallinas.”
City and state politicians have looked at ending the no-knock warrants in the wake of Taylor‘s killing during a police raid at her apartment. The raid uncovered no evidence and her death sparked outrage over the practice.
Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said the warrants are even more necessary in the current climate.
“It’s a time when New Yorkers are facing a steep increase in gun violence,” Shea said. “A time when your NYPD cops are out there, and detectives, every day trying to keep you, New Yorkers, safe.”
Harrison said 1,815 search warrants were approved by the courts last year, 1,144 were no-knock. The warrants led to the NYPD seizure of 792 firearms. Police recovered narcotics 667 times, he said. In 40 instances, the evidence cops were seeking was not found.