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North Omaha community and law enforcement talk no-knock warrants at town hall

Posted at 10:27 PM, Mar 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-22 23:27:08-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Tuesday night, Omaha’s law enforcement leaders met with the community in North Omaha to discuss their role in the community. Specifically when it comes to no-knock warrants.

Every month, Black Votes Matter hosts these town halls to talk about topics important to North Omaha. Preston Love. Jr., founder and president of the organization, said he wanted to talk about the topic as the case of Amir Locke is on many people's minds.

Locke was a 22-year-old Black man killed in Minneapolis last month as police executed a no-knock warrant. Locke was not listed on the warrant.

"It is horrible that we have no-knock warrants that are being served period. But then for it to go so far as to be the wrong door," Love said. "And it would go so far as to take someone’s life.”

Omaha Police Chief Todd Schmaderer spoke about their policies on no-knock warrants during the town hall. He said they too look at what’s happened in other communities to avoid hurting the people they serve here in Omaha.

Two years ago, following the death of Breonna Taylor who was also killed during a no-knock raid, OPD made the change to focus more on knock and announce warrants.

"If we did a no-knock search warrant, it wasn’t done in the manner of just breaking the door down and just rushing in. Because that wasn’t safe for anyone inside that abode and it wasn’t safe for the law enforcement officers," Schmaderer said. "So without getting into our tactics, we really don't do no knocks here in the city of Omaha. We may get approved for one with the application for a warrant. But the tactical piece of it, we're not really doing a no-knock."

Chief deputy Wayne Hudson said the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office also avoids no-knock warrants. Since 2020, they’ve served five.

Before one is granted, Hudson or the sheriff look at the information to decide if they want to pursue a no-knock and ultimately a judge gives the final say.

"That’s just to make sure there’s a cooler head and different set of eyes that will look at that search warrant or arrest warrant and say ‘Is this something we really want to do?'" Hudson said.

Hudson said they also look at incidents across the nation to deter similar situations in their area.

"We have a different community here," Hudson said. "We have a really good sheriff's department and a really good police department. And we have a really good community. We work well together. Are there things that we could do better? Yes. But all of us are willing to sit down- that's why you're here, and that's why we're here."

The 20 or so people who attended learned more about the procedures in both departments and were able to share where they’d like to see law enforcement do better.

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