LAWRENCE, Kan. — The Lawrence Police Department announced Saturday that it will be banning the no-knock warrants and chokeholds.
For two-plus years the banning of no-knock-warrants have been at the center of social justice movements across the United States. Breonna Taylor’s killing at the hands of a Louisville police officer starting the initial discussions. But those conversations reignited just over a month ago when 22-year-old Amir Locke was killed by police while they served one of these warrants.
Neither Locke nor Taylor were the subject of the warrants but were the causalities of the way they were carried out.
Those two cases had a direct impact on Lawrence Police Chief Rich Lockhart.
“National news coverage of tragic events has brought many questions and comments surrounding the department’s approach to chokeholds and no-knock warrants,” he said. “As we seek to reimagine policing in Lawrence, including being responsive to our community, I am banning no-knock search warrants and chokeholds.”
For Lockhart it was bigger than the movements it was what he saw with his own eyes, that made the decision a no brainer.
“I had discussions with community groups specifically the NAACP, the political action committee they asked me to ban no knock search warrants and when I talked with my department…I decided it was something that we needed to do in response to our community asking for it” Lockhart said.
“After the death of the young man in Minnesota, watching that video deeply disturbed me as a police chief and I didn’t want that to happen to someone in my community,” he said.
That young man, Amir Locke, this is all a part of what the chief said must be a reimagining of what policing in America looks like.
“In the law enforcement community it starting to change as well we’re seeing that there are better ways to serve search warrants so when our community feels like we listen to them that helps build that trust” Lockhart said.
No-knock warrants became a popular tactic during the 1990s when officers were serving warrants on drug houses occupied by heavily armed individuals with fortified doors and windows.
“This tactic is one that should not be part of any law enforcement tactical strategy. Surprising residents with a dynamic entry, as recent incidents have demonstrated, is not safe for officers or residents,” he said.
Another Focus of his banning chokeholds – something he said very few of his officers were even trained on in the first place.
“Chokeholds again are a part of that conversation with this community they didn’t think it was a tactic that their police department would use” Lockhart said.
In the end the chiefs says these are things that the people of Lawrence wanted and by making these common sense decisions, he believes it helps build trust between the people and the officers who are sworn to serve and protect.
Lockhart also said the changes are part of what reimagining policing in Lawrence looks like and how the community envisions policing in Lawrence.