NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — No-knock warrants, when police can enter without first announcing themselves or knocking, have been the subject of much debate this past year, and on Thursday, the NYPD responded to criticism of recent incidents.
In March, police executed a no-knock warrant at a home in Jamaica, Queens, looking for drugs and guns linked to the homeowner’s nephew, who lives there.READ MORE: Tijuana Brown Says NYPD’s No-Knock Warrant Search Has Left Her ‘Constantly Jumping… I Don’t Sleep Straight Through The Night’
Their search turned up just a small amount of marijuana. He was arrested, but the District Attorney dropped the charge.
The homeowner says she was traumatized and criticized police for the damage left behind.
“No drugs were ever sold out of here?” CBS2’s Alice Gainer asked.
“Never. Never,” the homeowner said.
But NYPD Assistant Chief Joe Kenny said, “Three buys for marijuana were made from this location.”
He added neighbors were complaining of drug and firearms sales and that her nephew, Andre Brown, has a lengthy rap sheet, which includes carrying an illegal firearm.
“And is currently on parole for a violent robbery in which he stabbed his victim,” Kenny said.
In another incident in March in Laurelton, Queens, police executed a no-knock warrant at the home of a former correction officer, looking for her boyfriend’s son.
She says he hasn’t lived there in years.READ MORE: ‘I Had A Nightmare Last Night That The Police Came In Here’: Lawsuit Being Prepared Over No-Knock Warrant Raid Of Debra Cottingham’s Queens Home
Police say crack cocaine was purchased at the home four times in January, February and March, adding the boyfriend’s son made three of those sales and is a known gang member with multiple priors.
But he wasn’t there when they executed the warrant and they found nothing inside the house.
In order to get a no-knock warrant, NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea says, “You build the case, you gather evidence.”
The NYPD says the information is reviewed by NYPD executives. It’s brought to the DA, then a judge.
“I have rejected no-knock warrants,” said Ernest Hart, a former judge and current NYPD deputy commissioner for legal matters. “The police department, the District Attorney’s office, they have to prove to the judge, the judge’s satisfaction that the no-knock is warranted.”
In 2020, over 1,800 search warrants were executed. Hundreds of guns and drugs were discovered, but in 40 instances, they didn’t find what they were looking for. Of those 1,800 warrants, more than 1,400 were no-knock.
A bill was introduced in New York state late last year to limit no-knock warrants except in the most serious cases involving suspected killers or terrorists.
“The goal of the search warrant is to remove violent contraband from the streets in an attempt to save an innocent New Yorker’s life,” said NYPD Chief of Department Rodney Harrison.
The mayor says he’s reviewing the policy with the NYPD.
In the Laurelton case, the retired correction officer has two licensed handguns. Her attorney says guidelines state that police are supposed to make sure the residents of the house they’re raiding are not licensed to possess firearms.