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Daniel Cameron’s search warrant panel recommends training, reporting

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Kyeland Jackson
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A task force created by Attorney General Daniel Cameron unveiled recommendations for changing the search warrant process in Kentucky following the police killing of Breonna Taylor more than a year and a half ago.

The recommendations include pushing law enforcement agencies to use an electronic platform to handle search warrants, track where warrants are served and notify child protective services when a warrant may impact a minor.

The task force also advocated for more search warrant-related training for police officers, though changed language that would have required the training to be conducted every year.

Bullitt County Sheriff Walt Sholar said he doesn’t want the training to get in the way of officers’ other duties.

“There’s only so many hours and so many people,” Sholar said. “It’s still time I can’t have them out working burglaries or traffic or this and that.”

The training course would be developed by the state’s Department of Criminal Justice Training.

Nicolai Jilek, the department’s commissioner, said the training could be packaged into a video that all law enforcement agencies could use.

“I want to make sure we’re not somehow suggesting to the legislature that what we need is an additional mandated class and have that start to impede on the other mandated training we already have,” Jilek said.

The draft version of the report is now publicly available, and a final version will be released in the coming days. The proposals will be considered during the upcoming legislative session, which begins in January.

Cameron formed the task force earlier this year, 10 months after Louisville Metro Police Department officers killed Breonna Taylor during a middle-of-the-night raid. Taylor’s death renewed outcry over how and when police execute search warrants across the country.

The state legislature passed a law limiting no-knock search warrants to cases that involve allegations of violence and required police to execute searches between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m.

The panel didn’t recommend a window for when officers should conduct searches, but said officers should consider “the time of day that is most appropriate for service.”

George Wright, a professor at the University of Kentucky, said the panel should consider more strongly recommending against “raids at midnight.”

“Perhaps it’s better in many instances for it to be done in other times. I don’t know if we need a brief word there on why it would be better to do at noon than at midnight,” Wright said.

The Search Warrant Task Force includes mostly government officials and members of law enforcement—judges, two Republican state lawmakers, the state police commissioner, the commissioner of the state Department of Criminal Justice Training and people appointed by associations representing prosecutors and local governments.

It also includes the state’s chief public defender, a person appointed by the state NAACP and three citizens appointed by Cameron.

Cameron thanked the panel for providing “different perspectives.”

“Frankly, that’s what we wanted. We wanted folks from different walks of life and different parts of the search warrant process to be involved,” Cameron said.

Cameron was at the center of the investigation into Breonna Taylor’s death. His office advised the grand jury that only indicted one of the three LMPD officers involved in the fatal raid—then-detective Brett Hankison’s wanton endangerment charges for shooting into a neighbors’ apartment.

Three of the grand jurors disputed Cameron’s account of his role recommending charges only for one of the officers.

Ryland is the state capitol reporter for the Kentucky Public Radio Network, a group of public radio stations including WKU Public Radio. A native of Lexington, Ryland has covered politics and state government for NPR member stations KWBU in Waco and KUT in Austin.
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