The killing of Amir Locke requires immediate bipartisan action to limit no-knock warrants and strengthen procedural safeguards required for their approval.
It is troubling that the Minneapolis Police Department overruled the recommendations of the investigating agency, the St. Paul Police Department, in requesting a no-knock warrant. The unusually high number of no-knock warrants obtained by the Minneapolis Police Department which far exceeds the requests in neighboring counties and cities, suggests the use of these warrants as a common or standard practice. These inherently dangerous search warrants should be rare given the important constitutional protections from no-knock and night-time residential searches.
During yesterday’s press conference Interim Police Chief Amelia Huffman made the statement that both a no-knock and a knock warrant were obtained so the SWAT team “could assess the circumstances and make the best possible decision.” Anyone who values constitutional protections should be alarmed and outraged by this statement. The notion that law enforcement, rather than a judge, should determine whether a search is to be conducted as a “knock” or a “no-knock” is legally ridiculous and constitutionally dangerous.
I am proposing the following amendments to Minnesota Statutes Section 626.14:
- Review and approval of any no-knock warrant by the County Attorney’s Office prior to its submission to the Court;
- Limitations on no-knock warrants to circumstances involving violent offenders or imminent threats of harm to hostages or others;
- Inclusion of language in any sworn affidavit in support of the search warrant confirming that the request for a no-knock or night-time search warrant is in full compliance with any procedures or guidelines of the law enforcement agency executing the search warrant;
- Prohibiting law enforcement from obtaining both a “knock” warrant and a “no-knock” warrant for the same search.