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Lexington council votes in favor of ordinance banning no-knock warrants

Published: Jun. 24, 2021 at 3:48 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - The Lexington Fayette Urban County Council voted in favor of an ordinance banning no-knock warrants.

It was a nearly three-and-a-half hour meeting, and over an hour of that spent only on public comment.

Every one of those speakers urged council to ban no-knock warrants, and in the end, it was a vote 10 to 5 in favor of the ban.

But a majority of the discussion Thursday night centered around an amendment. It was proposed for the first time and would still allow no-knock warrants in certain circumstances.

The public called it a “watered down” version of the original ordinance. But some council members and Lexington Police Chief Lawrence Weathers say it was a compromise.

However, that new amendment failed with a narrow vote of 8 to 7. That brought council back to voting on the original ordinance with a full ban on the warrants, which passed 10 to 5.

There were cheers as soon as the ordinance passed, and community leaders said it was a solid step forward.

“Particularly many of us who are African American based on statistics that show we are over-policed,” Rev. L. Clark Williams said. “Sometimes police make mistakes no matter how good the department is and we know disproportionately the mistakes are going to be made at our houses as a result of that even when no-knock warrants aren’t being executed we still wonder whether they will be executed against us.”

Chief Weathers said, though, he is concerned about not having even the option to use a no-knock warrant in future cases.

“There’s all kinds of scenarios that could occur without the use of that one tool, I may have to move to another tool and as I explain I’ve got a lot of tools on my belt, one of them is the last resort. If you start taking tools away from me you might leave me with just the last resort I do not want that, I want to have as many options as I can,” Chief Weathers said.

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