Mahurin Honors College Capstone Experience/Thesis Projects


Political Science

Additional Departmental Affiliation


Document Type



On March 13, 2020, Breonna Taylor was fatally shot when officers of the Louisville Metro Police Department (LMPD) executed a search warrant at her apartment. Breonna Taylor’s case brought national attention to no-knock warrants (NKWs), which allow police to enter private residences unannounced. It is estimated that 20,000-80,000 NKWs are executed by American police each year. This thesis explores the development of NKWs as a common, yet controversial, police tactic. The increase in NKWs is largely attributed to the federal government’s War on Drugs, beginning with Richard Nixon’s 1968 presidential campaign. However, the Supreme Court laid the foundation for NKWs to become a foundational police tactic, beginning in 1963. The Supreme Court has since shifted its focus away from protecting fourth amendment rights towards preserving evidence for criminal prosecution. Despite the risks of violence, property damage, and tragedy associated with NKWs, the federal government has continued to endorse and uphold the practice.

Public opinion on law enforcement actions does not always coincide with judicial interpretations or government policies. I conducted an original web survey to explore public opinion regarding NKWs and potential reform. While support for NKWs varies by circumstance, there are distinctions in how respondents view which crimes warrant an unannounced entry. High-profile tragedies influence how people perceive law enforcement actions. While people generally favor reform to reduce fatal encounters with police, they differ on which measures to take.

Advisor(s) or Committee Chair

Jeffrey Budziak, Ph.D.


History | Other Public Affairs, Public Policy and Public Administration | Political Science