A look at Milwaukee's decision to ban no-knock warrants

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Protesters are taking to the streets in Minneapolis after a man was shot and killed during the execution of a no-knock search warrant.

It's a practice that was banned in Milwaukee by the Fire and Police Commission in November of 2021.

"It was approximately a year-long process," said Edward Fallone, chair of the Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission.

It's a conversation that started after Breonna Taylor was killed in Kentucky during the execution of a no-knock warrant. Chief Jeffrey Norman had already cut back on using no-knock warrants, executing only six in 2021, but proposed allowing them in limited cases. The FPC opted for a total ban.

"Looking at the factual basis for the six no-knock warrants for the year 2021, I was not convinced they could be executed 100 percent safely in terms of neighbors, people in the surrounding community, people who might be inside the residence searched," Fallone said.

Andrew Wagner, the president of the Milwaukee Police Association, opposes the decision, saying it jeopardizes officer safety.

"It's really meant to be a surprise and catch the suspects off guard, and when we do that, we don't allow the suspects time to arm themselves in order to fire at police," Wagner said. "And even to arm themselves where it would put the citizens in danger."

Wagner says even with no-knock warrants, MPD officers were still in uniform and announced themselves as police. In 2019, MPD Officer Matthew Rittner was killed executing a no-knock warrant, but Wagner says that's because the shooter was in a second-floor unit and had time to get a gun.

"That was a situation where no-knock or knock, that wouldn't have been prevented," Wagner said. "But if a no-knock warrant allows time for the officer to surprise him, and where those subjects aren't able to arm themselves, then we hope to prevent more incidents like that in the future."

As the policy enters its first full year, Wagner says they'll have to wait and see if it increases dangers to officers.

Fallone says he stands by the decision and it's not one that was made lightly.

"I think you have to make the right decision for the right reasons and know you can't control what's going to happen in the future," Fallone said.

MPD is still allowed to assist federal law enforcement in executing its no-knock warrants.

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