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Hawaii House Quashes Bill Eliminating No-Knock Warrants

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

HONOLULU — The Hawaii House on Tuesday quashed a bill that would have eliminated no-knock warrants, a centerpiece of police reform legislation proposed in the wake of high-profile killings by police across the nation.

Hawaii lawmakers introduced the bill after learning about the death of Breonna Taylor, a Louisville, Kentucky, emergency medical worker who was shot after detectives busted down her apartment door in the middle of the night.

The bill would have required law enforcement to declare who they are and what they are doing when they serve a warrant, and then to wait 30 seconds before they enter a house, store, or other building. The legislation would have required officers to wear uniforms and body cameras when serving warrants.

State Rep. Scot Matayoshi, a Democrat representing Kaneohe and Kailua, supported the motion to kill the bill, saying the state attorney general's office, prosecutors, and most police organizations in the state expressed concerns about it.

Matayoshi also pointed to testimony from the state public defender's office suggesting law enforcement should be required to wait “a reasonable time” instead of 30 seconds because the size of a residence and other variables create unique circumstances when warrants are served.

Rep. Sonny Ganaden said he hoped the Legislature in the future would craft a law that would result in fewer shootings by police and reduce violence.

“This bill would have incorporated some of the oversight that we were hoping for in police departments that is happening across the nation,” said Ganaden, a Democrat who represents Kalihi and Pearl Harbor.

By voice vote, the House approved a motion to send the measure back to conference committee. But that effectively kills the bill because lawmakers won’t have enough time to rework it before the current legislative session ends on Thursday.

The Senate passed the legislation 23-2.

Josh Wisch, the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii, said he would try to get lawmakers in the House to reconsider and to revive the bill before the session is over.

He called the move “deeply disappointing” and said that bill could have saved lives.

Wisch noted that without it, no police reform measure will pass the Legislature this session. That's even though thousands across Hawaii marched last year demanding police reform following the deaths of Taylor and the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

“Its astonishing, really,” Wisch said.

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