SWAT

Minneapolis Bans Police Use of No-Knock Warrants

After the tragic shooting of Amir Locke, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey has made changes to the controversial practice. But are they enough?

|

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey has announced an end to no-knock search warrants in the city. The policy will ban city police from using or requesting no-knock warrants and implement modest reforms for how long police must wait to enter property after announcing themselves. But does the new policy go far enough to prevent needless deaths?

The change was inspired by the February death of Amir Locke, who was sleeping on his cousin's couch when police executed a pre-dawn, no-knock raid. Locke responded to the aggressive intrusion by reaching for a gun that he was licensed to carry. Before Locke ever touched the trigger, a Minneapolis Police Department officer shot him three times from mere feet away. Locke later died. 

"We accomplished what we set out to do," Frey said in a press release, "This policy is among the most forward-looking and extensive in the nation and will help keep both our residents and officers safe. I'm grateful for all our internal and external partners who provided data, feedback, and guidance in the creation of this policy. Their efforts will have a lasting impact on public safety in Minneapolis."

The policy mandates that police knock and wait for at least 20 seconds before entering. For warrants served between 8 p.m. and 7 a.m., the waiting period extends to 30 seconds. The new policy has exceptions for "exigent circumstances," a list that includes stopping a suspect from attempting an escape or from harming themselves or someone else, as well as the need to prevent the destruction of narcotics. 

The policy also classifies search warrants into low-, medium-, or high-risk categories. Officers are not allowed to use forced entry for low-risk warrants unless exigent circumstances arise. Medium-risk search warrants must be signed off by two supervisors. High-risk warrants will only be carried out by SWAT and must be approved by a commander. If conducted at night, they must be signed off by the deputy chief of investigations or someone above that rank. 

But is this enough?

Following Locke's death, Reason's Jacob Sullum observed that knocking and waiting, as opposed to entering without announcement, often still leads to unnecessary violence. "The Louisville cops banged on the door of [Breonna] Taylor's apartment for about 30 seconds before breaking in and claimed they also announced themselves," Sullum wrote. "She and [Kenneth] Walker still did not realize the intruders were police officers." Taylor was killed by police and Walker was charged for using a gun in self-defense. 

Sullum called for "a fundamental reevaluation" of "dynamic entry" tactics. While Minneapolis's new policy may reduce the frequency of the riskiest kinds of raids, by preserving dynamic entry as an acceptable police practice, the city still leaves far too much room for tragedy.  

NEXT: Faulty Police Field Tests Said This Trucker Was Carrying 700 Gallons of Meth. It Was Diesel.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. The cops will put on giant plush mittens, knock softly, the barge in when Noone answered withing 30 seconds

    1. "I thought I heard a toilet flush." voids the legislation.

      1. ^nailed it.

      2. "I thought I heard about some voter fraud on social media" will allow the Trumpanzees gone apeshit to perform a no-knock warrant on Congress, and Saint Babbitt will BLESS this particular type of surprise no-knock warrant, from WAY Above and Beyond the Beyond the Beyond!

        Don’t fear the revolt!
        (insurrection)!

        All our times have come
        Here, but now they’re gone
        Seasons don’t fear the revolt
        Nor do the wind, the sun, or the rain
        (We can be like they are)
        Come on, baby
        (Don’t fear the revolt)
        Baby, take my hand
        (Don’t fear the revolt)
        We’ll be able to fly
        Baby, I’m your man
        La, la la, la la
        La, la la, la la
        Valentine is done
        Here but now they’re gone
        Horst Wessel and Ashli Babbs
        Are together in eternity
        (Horst Wessel and Ashli Babbitt)

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horst_Wessel

        1. The real Horst Wessel (George Floyd) takes offense at that,

    2. Screw all this crap. Just get rid of cops altogether. Cops do little if anything to stop crimes (the real ones, not speeding tickets). instead teach all citizens to own and learn how to use those items that provide safety, e.g., pistols, tazers, etc. for their safety.

    3. Yep. This is too weak to make a good difference.

  2. The new policy has exceptions for "exigent circumstances," a list that includes stopping a suspect from attempting an escape or from harming themselves or someone else...

    as well as the need to prevent the destruction of narcotics.

    So close to being in any way meaningful.

    1. "I can smell weed. Alright fellas, bust out the battering ram."

  3. "Following Locke's death, Reason's Jacob Sullum observed that knocking and waiting, as opposed to entering without announcement, often still leads to unnecessary violence. "The Louisville cops banged on the door of [Breonna] Taylor's apartment for about 30 seconds before breaking in and claimed they also announced themselves," Sullum wrote. "She and [Kenneth] Walker still did not realize the intruders were police officers." Taylor was killed by police and Walker was charged for using a gun in self-defense."

    It's almost as if there's more than one variable here. I feel like the timing of these raids might also play some small part.

    1. Thank The Almighty Dollar for that.

  4. Deliver all warrants in daylight by a uniformed officer driving a marked car. It ain't all that hard.
    If a few crooks get away, it doesn't matter, because the DA is going to give them a pass anyway.

  5. Why they only make the brothers wear masks?

    1. Because everyone knows those people don’t vax!!!

  6. Why would the headline say 'banned no knock' when the article itself makes it clear that that is not what was done?

    They put some slightly increased restrictions on it's use and then provided an easy way to get around the restrictions at the same time.

    1. Need. More. Clicks.

  7. Some good news from Minneapolis for a change.

    1. First time since the 70s that anyone in that city has taken a nothing day and suddenly made it all seem worthwhile!

  8. Because nobody but the police can knock on your door at midnight and shout "Police!!!" or buy a Police vest.

  9. Well, all the cops made it home safe. In the end, isn't that the point?

    1. The dude who got the kill likely had the best sex of his life that night. We also need to factor that into our evaluation.

  10. Officers are not allowed to use forced entry for low-risk warrants unless exigent circumstances arise. Medium-risk search warrants must be signed off by two supervisors. High-risk warrants will only be carried out by SWAT and must be approved by a commander.

    This seems like a good start. Next, restrict when warrants can be carried out. Normal waking hours (no midnight raids) when people are awake & alert should be the requirement.

  11. 20 or even 30 seconds is too short a time. Some people live in relatively large houses and from some parts cannot hear a knock or doorbell or if they do cannot get to the door in such a short time. Sometimes they can't move immediately. What if you're on the toilet and need to finish and clean up? What if you're in the shower, naked with shampoo in your hair? What if you're up in your attic crawlspace? It just isn't reasonable to expect people to come to the door rapidly.

    It seems to me that one factor that police and judges should be required to consider is what the alternatives are what the stakes are. If they're trying to capture a suspected serial killer forced entry may be reasonable; if they're trying to capture a minor drug dealer, probably not. In many cases a suspect could be arrested without entering the house at all simply by waiting for him to leave the house and arresting him outside. This may take more surveillance resources, but the risk to innocent people and property is far lower.

    1. Ageed. Police should go with low-risk options. A traffic stop is safer than a midnight raid.

    2. That's pretty much what I said above. The law comes this ->||<- close to meaning anything. It's almost a Charlie Brown football moment. Someone's life is in danger immediate danger? OK. Kick in the door. Evidence might get destroyed because police knocked on the door? Leave the door as is, knock on it once a week, shut the whole operation down. Easiest police work in the world. Nobody dies.

  12. Some men don't deserve to live, and some organizations don't either. The Minneapolis Police Dept and the suburban shops they feed fall into this category.

    "Defund the police" is a stupid principle, but sometimes you need to blow it all up.

  13. ...as well as the need to prevent the destruction of narcotics.

    Ahahaha! So close to a meaningful law. This close! What a load of crap. This isn't going to do anything.

  14. Even before Sullum, Lysander Spooner wrote in 1875: The natural right of each individual to defend his own person and property against an aggressor, and to go to the assistance and defense of everyone else whose person or property is invaded, is a right without which men could not exist on the earth. And government has no rightful existence, except in so far as it embodies, and is limited by, this natural right of individuals.

  15. When a society has become too incohesive to agree on the definition of something as simple as "a woman", the best thing to do is distance oneself from it to the extent one can.

  16. 30 seconds - a one size fits all scenario is stupid and is just some politician trying to have it both ways - I support support police and poor oppressed minorities. I still want to know what NKW has ever been issued other than for the exceptions to the rule, i.e. narcotics that can be destroyed or armed and dangerous individuals residing or present at the location?

  17. The headline is very misleading. It seems our politicians are weak, our police unions strong, and our press inattentive. We, the people, have to demand better.
    M Duncan Lemp

  18. Just get rid of your door. They can't knock if you don't have one, and they can't come in if they don't knock.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.