After a knock on my apartment door, my roommates and I look at each other for about 10 seconds before anyone takes the initiative to see who it is. It then takes another 10 seconds for the chosen roommate to make it to the door. I won’t even discuss how much longer that process is if no one’s in the living room.
However, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that police officers do not have to wait more than 20 seconds after knocking on a door before breaking into a home to serve a warrant.
This is a ludicrous idea given the fact that most people don’t run eagerly to the door every time there’s a knock. The Supreme Court has given too much power to the police and placed too little faith in U.S. citizens.
The court’s argument is anything longer than 20 seconds allows suspects the opportunity to retrieve weapons or, in drug cases, flush the contraband down the toilet. While this may be true, it more often than not leads to situations like the one faced by LaShawn Banks.
Banks was showering when he heard a knock at the door. He quickly turned the water off, grabbed a towel, stepped out of his bathroom and suddenly found himself pinned to the ground nude.
There is no way the 15 to 20 seconds the police gave Banks to answer the door was enough time for him to even reach the door. Heaven forbid if he were on the toilet.
This is no longer a case about evidence protection or police safety. It is about logic and reason. How can the Supreme Court justify further invasion of the public’s privacy? Justice David H. Souter said because police thought there were drugs inside Banks’ home, officers had more reason to rush in. So the 1995 no-knock entries that were ruled unlawful by the Supreme Court are null and void because the courts believe officers executing drug warrants can show they had reason to think a suspect would be dangerous or destroy evidence.
What’s next? If a police officer calls my home to question me about a case, I have to answer within three rings or I can be charged with obstructing justice?
Yes, there are risks involved with lengthy wait times; however, there are already contingency plans in place to handle such risks. This ruling sets an extremely dangerous precedent regarding the power of the police.
For those 20 seconds, are the officers counting in “Mississippis” or hide-and-seek seconds? I just need to know how quickly I should sprint to the door before I have to pay for a new lock.
Jason E. Hutchins, 19, is a sophomore business administration student from Athens, Ga. He is the Deputy Visual Editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.