The Little Rock Police Department has announced new policies on using no-knock warrants in drug raids that include a pre-raid “threat assessment.”
At a news conference attended by Mayor Frank Scott Jr. and Police Chief Keith Humphrey, Capt. Ken Temple, commander of the special investigations division, said steps already taken had reduced the use of no-knock raids, in part thanks to help from federal agents and attention to making stronger cases.
Temple also said a review of “cooperating individuals” (people who make drug buys, in other words) had resulted in a removal of 59 from the list. Among the policy changes are several intended to improve the quality of such informants. They’ll be reviewed annually to be sure their status hasn’t changed, they’ll be thoroughly vetted and those who haven’t been active in a year will be removed from the CI list.
Based on review of other police agencies, the department also has developed a “threat assessment” form, in which a score of 4 will trigger further scrutiny before a no-knock warrant is sought. The factors would include arrest history, presence of weapons, social media indicators and a concern for destruction of evidence. Higher officers will also review a proposed raid before a no-knock warrant is sought. After one is issued and used, an audit will be conducted. The new policies also include a provision for cooperation between narcotics officers and SWAT officers on the planning and completion of a raid.
Here’s the threat assessment sheet.
Washington Post writer Radley Balko wrote extensively (this link is just one of several articles) about his investigation of the practice in Little Rock, which spawned a lawsuit from one of those on the receiving end of such a raid.
Mayor Scott, who spoke critically of some police tactics during his campaign last year, hinted at a kinder, gentler LRPD in a Tweet in advance of the news conference. Afterward, he said, “This is what 21st Century policing looks like.” Police Chief Humphrey said, “We heard the community. We understand the concerns.”