On June 19, Mayor Ben Walsh issued the Syracuse Police Reform Executive Order No. 1 and outlined in Action #11 that the Syracuse Police Department would review the department’s procedure and approval process regarding the application of search warrants that seek a “no-knock” provision from a court to ensure compliance with Constitutional standards.
Typically when police officers have a warrant to enter a property, they must knock and announce themselves before entering. However, in some cases where there is reasonable cause to believe that the giving of notice may endanger the life or safety of the police officer or another person, or if there is substantial belief that important evidence may be destroyed if an officer announces their presence before entering, an officer can be granted what is known as a “no-knock warrant.” These allow officers to enter a property without knocking or announcing themselves. Different states have varying levels of approvals needed to gain a no-knock warrant, which impacts how easy it is for an officer to obtain one.
In response to Executive Order No. 1 Action #11, the Syracuse Police Department created a new policy on no-knock warrants. Under this new policy, no-knock warrants require two levels of internal administrative review and approval.
- An officer must obtain approval from a command officer (i.e., lieutenant or above) prior to submitting an application to a court for a warrant containing a no-knock provision.
- After the warrant is issued by a judge, an officer must obtain approval from the Chief of Police or a Deputy Chief prior to executing the no-knock warrant.
This new policy will ensure that no-knock warrants are not used unless they are thoroughly and carefully reviewed at the highest level of the Syracuse Police Department.