No-knock raid legislation clears hurdle
The Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously approved changes that require police officers to meet a stiffer standard to get the special warrants, which are intended to prevent suspects from getting rid of evidence and to protect officers from potentially violent suspects.
Critics say the warrants are sometimes abused by police, who currently must prove to a judge that there’s “reasonable suspicion” before granted the power to enter a home without knocking first.
The measure would require them to prove a “probable cause,” a standard that’s one step higher in Georgia criminal law.
“Every citizen ought to be safe and secure in their own home,” said state Sen. Vincent Fort, the Atlanta Democrat who wrote the bill. “There’s no higher right.”
“It’s an officer’s safety issue and a safety issue for other occupants that may be in a dwelling,” said Terry Norris, the group’s director. “I just don’t feel like â€” and the sheriffs don’t feel like â€” there’s a need for the legislation.”
The arguments failed to sway members of the Republican-controlled committee, which described it as a property rights issue.
“No-knock warrants are about as great an abrogation of the privacy of the home as you can get,” said Sen. Seth Harp, R-Midland. “We need for people to be protected in their homes.”
“We need for people to be protected in their homes.”
I could not agree more with Senator Harp’s comments.
The bill still has to clear the Senate Rules Committee before it can be taken up by the full Senate.