Utah bill limiting use of ‘no-knock’ warrants advances to governor’s desk

Stock image | Photo by Cylonphoto/iStock/Getty Images Plus, St. George News

ST. GEORGE —A bill limiting the use of “no knock” warrants passed both the House and the Senate and is on its way to the governor’s desk.

Stock image for illustrative purposes only | Photo by Logan Weaver/Unsplash, St. George News

On Friday, the Forcible Entry Amendments bill, officially designated HB 124 in the 2022 Utah Legislature, passed the Senate unanimously and was then sent back to the House to be signed by House Speaker Brad Wilson, before it was sent to the Office of Legislative Research and General Counsel who prepares the final form of the bill.

The bill bans “no-knock” warrants for cases involving misdemeanor charges altogether, and would also require officers to knock more than once before entering when the entry is accompanied by a “knock and announce” warrant. The new law will also require officers to wear clothing with a “distinguishable” label and badge that clearly identifies them as law enforcement and recommends warrants be carried out before 10 p.m.

The bill made its initial debut last year in the wake of the protests that took place in 2020 but was held up due to the time requirement that officers had to wait at least 30 seconds for the occupant to open the door before entering.

The 2022 bill changed the waiting period to “a reasonable” period of time,” consistent with the language outlined in the existing law, which is important since the 30-second rule may not apply to every situation when a warrant is executed, particularly with so many variables that can come into play, said Rep. Matthew Gwynn, sponsor of the bill and police chief for Roy Police Department in Weber County.

Gwynn told St. George News in an earlier interview that while he did not support abolishing these types of warrants altogether, he did believe it was important to establish clear perimeters connected to the application and execution of these types of warrants to ensure the action is necessary – which was the primary goal behind the bill.

He also said the bill was the logical next step in standardizing the policies connected to the application and execution of these types of warrants.

Once the final draft of the bill is completed it will be sent to Gov. Spencer Cox to be signed into law.

Check out all of St. George News’ coverage of the 2022 Utah Legislature here.

For a complete list of contacts for Southern Utah representatives and senators, click here.

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2022, all rights reserved.

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