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Utah bill would ban some ‘no-knock’ warrants, require ‘best practices’ on wearing ID

Brian Albers
“We're actually using this bill as a vehicle to standardize best practices,” said bill sponsor Rep. Matthew Gwynn.

A Utah legislative committee unanimously approved a bill Wednesday that adds new restrictions on police when they forcibly enter people’s homes.

The legislation, H.B. 124, bans “no-knock” warrants for investigating misdemeanor charges. It also requires law enforcement officers to knock and demand entry more than once before entering if they have a “knock and announce” warrant.

In either case, officers would have to wear clothing that easily identifies them as police, including a badge and a piece of clothing with a “distinguishing label.”

The legislation also states that it’s preferable for law enforcement to carry out these warrants before 10 p.m.

Rep. Matthew Gwynn, R-Farr West, is sponsoring the bill. He’s also the police chief in Roy in Weber County.

“We're actually using this bill as a vehicle to standardize best practices,” he said. “This is something that most, if not all, law enforcement agencies are now doing prior to serving search warrants.”

The bill was originally proposed last year after the 2020 protests following the police killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.

“This bill could have prevented a situation like Breonna Taylor,” said Rae Duckworth, president of Black Lives Matter Utah, who supports the bill. “Breonna Taylor was killed and murdered by police in her own home under the use of a ‘no-knock’ warrant.”

Gwynn told the committee the bill didn’t pass last year because it required law enforcement to wait at least 30 seconds for the resident to open the door before entering on a “knock and announce” warrant. The current bill removed the explicit time requirement and keeps pre-existing language that calls for officers to wait a “reasonable period of time.”

The legislation now heads to the House floor.

Sonja Hutson is a politics and government reporter at KUER.
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