Search Warrant Task Force Makes Final Recommendations

The Attorney General’s Search Warrant Task Force finished its months-long work on Thursday, by approving eight recommended changes to the Kentucky legislature that center around how Kentucky handles the search warrant process. The suggestions apply to all agencies involved in the search warrant process, but it is unclear whether the recommendations will materialize into legislation for the 2022 General Assembly or if agencies will enact the changes independently.

The recommendations include:

  • Utilizing an electronic database to log search warrant information;
  • Tracking of locations at which search warrants are served and publishing that information for the public;
  • Requiring a prosecutor to review and approve a proposed search warrant before the investigating agency seeks judicial authorization for the warrant;
  • Providing additional search warrant related training at the beginning of an officer’s career with continued updates;
  • Requiring law enforcement agencies enforce and regularly update written policies and procedures that govern the service of search warrants in their jurisdiction;
  • A requirement for law enforcement to consider factors such as time of day in deciding how to execute a warrant;
  • Involving child protective services if a search warrant may impact a minor; and
  • Encouraging law enforcement agencies to adopt a toolkit guide for search warrants, including best practices.

The toolkit the task force recommended is based upon suggestions made during its November meeting. At that time, Lexington Police Detective Elizabeth Thomas outlined the work of the task force’s serving committee, which spent months listening to ideas about how officers could execute search warrants more safely.

The Search Warrant Task Force began in the spring after Attorney General Daniel Cameron formed the group in response to calls for reform and Senate Bill 4. Legislators passed the KLC initiative in the 2021 session to limit the use of warrants that authorize entry without notice.