The former head of an organization for tactical officers has endorsed an effort by the prominent police reform and racial justice group Campaign Zero to end the type of no-knock warrant raid that killed Breonna Taylor.
Mark Lomax, the former executive director of the National Tactical Officers Association, said it’s time to take a “serious look” at “ending the dangerous practice of no-knock warrants and raids,” outside of extenuating circumstances.
“The ends may not always justify the means when it comes to the service of search warrants and especially no-knock raids,” Lomax said in a statement issued through the Black Lives Matter-associated group Campaign Zero, which launched its #EndAllNoKnocks initiative on Monday.
Lomax said it would be tough to reform what he called one of the most intrusive acts in policing, but it’s time to take a look at techniques and practices that “have been shown to have caused disproportionate harm to communities of color for years.” The March killing of 26-year-old Taylor during a raid by the Louisville, Kentucky, police should not be in vain, he said.
“Our law enforcement and government leaders need to engage and step up and fight against discriminatory and unsafe tactics that not only disproportionately put the lives of Black and Brown Americans at risk –– but also the lives of our police officers,” Lomax said. “The time is now. It is time to adopt meaningful legislation and policies that will work for all of us, our communities, and our police officers.”
Lomax, in an interview with HuffPost, explained that he thinks there should be some exceptions to bans on no-knock raids when “lives are in jeopardy,” but not when police are “saving dope” as part of a search warrant.
“My son is in law enforcement, and I do not want him to get hurt, shot, killed while serving a warrant when it wasn’t necessary,” said Lomax, a retired major with the Pennsylvania State Police. “I had friends who were shot doing dope deals, and then years later marijuana was legalized in that state.”
Campaign Zero’s initiative also received the endorsement of Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer, who said the drug raid in which police killed her daughter should have never been authorized.
“I’m not the only parent who has lost a child due to these practices of breaking down doors with hopes of scoring drugs and cash,” Palmer said in a statement. “These reform efforts need to continue so that no one else loses a loved one as a result of these dangerous, deadly and unnecessary practices.
Palmer’s statement continued:
Please support these critically important efforts. The lives of innocent daughters, sons, brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers AND police officers depend upon immediate elimination of these raids. We’re counting on legislators nationwide to act NOW. Otherwise, it could just as easily be their own families who are next ones grieving over a loss resulting out of a police home invasion.
DeRay Mckesson, a prominent Black Lives Matter activist and the co-founder of Campaign Zero, said Palmer and her legal team “helped us understand the necessary scope of a solution to end no knock raids and the necessity to go beyond only ending no knock warrants.”
Over the summer, Louisville’s city council unanimously voted for “Breonna’s Law” to end no-knock warrants in the city. In September, Kentucky’s attorney general announced that a grand jury declined to indict the officers who killed Taylor on murder charges in connection with her death.
Pete Kraska, a professor in the School of Justice Studies at Eastern Kentucky University and an expert on police militarization, said he met Lomax back in 2014 when they were testifying about the federal 1033 program, which sends military tactical gear to local police departments.
“He was very concerned about how SWAT had been running amok in regard to drug raids, and really thought deep in his bones that they shouldn’t be in the business of what he calls ‘rescuing drugs,’” Kraska said. “He looked very carefully and reviewed our model legislation, and he ended up at a place where he felt like he could fully endorse it.”
Kraska, who has been a research leader on the use of SWAT going back to the mid-1990s, said the spread of SWAT culture throughout entire police institutions has been “tragic” and “probably the worst consequence of what I call the normalization of police militarization.”
Kraska said he’s watched tragedies similar to Taylor’s death take place since 1992, and that he’s been trying to shine a light on the issue for decades.
“I just think people in general ― and people of color specifically ― are really ready for some real changes to take place in policing, and the Breonna Taylor case is a tragedy that I think has just woke up a lot of people,” Kraska said. “So I’m really pleased to see the momentum.”