Virginia Becomes 3rd State to Ban No-Knock Warrants


With ever-growing calls for police reform across the United States, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam (D) signed a bill in fall banning no-knock search warrants in the state. The bill makes Virginia the 3rd state in the nation to ban no-knock warrants.

The bill will ban forcible-entry raids used by law enforcement, particularly with narcotics search warrants. These warrants allow police officers to enter residence without any warning in an attempt to catch the occupants off guard. The law is part of a series of police reforms that will reduce militarization of police equipment, limit the use of neck restraints, standardize law enforcement training requirements, and strengthen the process to decertify officers when necessary. The bill is called “Breonna’s Law” in honor of the Kentucky woman who was killed by police officers who burst into her home during a raid.

The General Assembly originally passed the law in a special session in August. With the signing, Virginia joins Oregon and Florida as the only states in the country with no-knock warrant bans.

Junior Grant Hamilton is in favor of this new law, explaining, “I think that no-knock warrants are just inherently more dangerous.”

This new legislation comes after months of calls for police reform and an end to systemic racism after George Floyd’s death in May. Evidence shows that these types of raids are disproportionately carried out against people of color. According to a 2014 American Civil Liberties Union report, 39% of SWAT team raids targeted Black people and 11% targeted Latino people.

While Hamilton believes it is important to address this issue because of how it disproportionately affects Black people, he explained, “I feel like the same can be said for lots of other dangerous police practices [in that they also disproportionately affect Black people].”

Although this law is a step toward greater police reform, there are still many more actions that activists hope legislators will take, such as lowering the police budget and using that money for other causes, like housing. 

“I don’t believe that the banning of no-knock warrants is enough to properly deal with the problem of a militarized police force,” Hamilton said.