Houston Matters

Experts Analyze End Of No-Knock Search Warrants By Houston Police

HPD Chief Art Acevedo will also require officers participating in raids to wear body cameras.

The front door of the Southeast Houston home where police officers conducted a drug raid that turned deadly on January 28, 2019.

Two local experts on Houston Matters weighed in on the decision by Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo to stop conducting no-knock search warrants in most cases. The decision comes on the heels of a recent deadly drug raid that left two people dead and five officers wounded.

On Monday night, during a town hall meeting organized by the Greater Houston Coalition for Justice, Acevedo told community members he will end the practice of no-knock warrants all but the most extreme cases. Acevedo said any exception to the rule would need a special exemption from his office, the Houston Chronicle reported.

Mitchel Roth, a professor of Criminal Justice and Criminology at Sam Houston State University, said he thinks Acevedo felt he had no choice and had to do away with forced-entry raids.

Roth said no-knock search warrants can have serious consequences because innocent people can be killed. “Huge lawsuits have been paid in the millions of dollars and, of course, the taxpayers pay for that,” Roth told Houston Matters Host Craig Cohen. 

Roth also said that in states like Texas, where many people own guns, these police operations can be even more dangerous, because people can be confused and react violently. He thinks more judicial scrutiny is needed before granting a no-knock search warrant.

There is legal precedent for no-knock search warrants. The U.S. Supreme Court has said they are permissible if there is a risk of destruction of evidence or officers’ safety can be compromised.

“I think there are many circumstances where police feel that, you know, because there’s guns in the house, because of the danger in terms of executing the warrant, that they need that tool in their arsenal,” said Ryan McConnell, a Houston attorney and adjunct professor at the University of Houston’s Law Center.

Acevedo has also announced he will establish a new policy to make sure that officers participating in raids wear body cameras. The officers who participated in the deadly drug raid at 7815 Harding didn’t wear cameras.

McConnell said body cameras can help bring transparency to the public in how search warrants are carried out.  

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Alvaro ‘Al’ Ortiz

Alvaro ‘Al’ Ortiz

General Assignment Reporter

Alvaro 'Al' Ortiz is originally from Spain. He worked for several years in his home country and gained experience in all platforms of journalism, from wire services to print, as well as broadcast news and digital reporting. In 2001, Al came to the United States to pursue a Master's degree...

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