HOUSTON — Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said the department is considering a policy change for “no-knock” warrants after last month’s deadly raid.
The warrants are called dynamic entries. They started decades ago during the drug wars.
There has been a debate for years about how effective and safe they are for both law enforcement and civilians. While they’re sometimes viewed as necessary, Chief Acevedo said they’re dangerous.
During a testy town hall meeting with the public and local activists, Chief Acevedo said his department would no longer use the no-knock warrants which are designed to have an element of surprise and speed and often used in high-risk situations.
“I’m 99.9 percent sure we won’t be using them,” Chief Acevedo said. “We have four officers shot and two civilians killed. I don’t see the value in them.”
The chief said he would have to personally sign off on any warrant using the tactic and raids that stem from those warrants would be used in a limited way, including when a small amount of drugs are involved.
“I was glad to hear that Chief Acevedo was looking at possibly removing the no-knock warrant. I think that’s the smart thing to do,” said Councilman Robert Gallegos, who represents the district where the botched raid took place.
Councilman Gallegos said residents have had a number of complaints about how the warrant was carried out in their neighborhood.
“This was done in the middle of the afternoon, when there were students walking home from school.”
He says while police were blocking streets that had no sidewalks, kids had to go into ditches.
Neighbors also wondered why police didn’t arrest the suspects when they walked out of their home if they posed a low-risk.
The president of the Police Union, Joe Gamaldi said he won’t comment on the chief’s announcement to eliminate so-called “no knocks” until the investigation of the raid is completed.
Mayor Sylvester Turner and Chief Acevedo plan to hold a press conference Wednesday afternoon at City Hall to talk about policy changes at the department.
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