Minneapolis police restrict use of no-knock search and arrest warrants
Under new guidelines, no-knock warrants would only be acceptable in high-risk circumstances such as a hostage situation
By Liz Sawyer and Liz Navratil
MINNEAPOLIS — Minneapolis police officers will face restrictions on entering a person's home unannounced under a new policy banning most "no-knock" search warrants, the latest attempt by city leaders to reform police practices in the wake of George Floyd's killing.
The change would, for the first time, establish clear expectations for MPD officers prior to crossing the threshold of a home, limiting the controversial procedure that Louisville police used during the fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor last March.
Mayor Jacob Frey called the move "overdue."
"This is really about proactive policymaking, and we can't prevent every tragedy, but we can limit the likelihood of tragedies occurring and then set a clear, objective standard for both the police and the community," he said in an interview late last week.
Starting Monday, officers must identify themselves as "police" and announce their purpose as "search warrant" before entering any domicile — regardless of whether a judge signed off on an "unannounced" or "no-knock" entry. Once inside, officers are instructed to periodically repeat those announcements in case occupants didn't hear them. The same rules apply for arrest warrants.
Under new guidelines, no-knock warrants would only be acceptable in high-risk circumstances, like a hostage situation or when "giving an announcement would create an imminent threat of physical harm to victims, officers or the public."
If investigators want an exception to search a residence without warning, they will need express permission from a supervisor.
Previously, MPD executed an average of 139 no-knock warrants a year.
The policy change comes six months to the day after Floyd's death at a south Minneapolis street corner, which sparked a wave of protests and national reckoning on racial justice. Floyd died May 25 after since-fired officer Derek Chauvin pressed his knee into Floyd's neck, ignoring his pleas for help until he fell unconscious and later died.
Since then, the department has banned the use of chokeholds and neck restraints, strengthened requirements to intervene in excessive force cases, limited the number of people who can authorize the use of crowd-control weapons and allowed for wider body-camera reviews, under an agreement with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights.
"Even amid the most difficult circumstances, our men and women of the Minneapolis Police Department continue to carry out their duties with the highest level of excellence," Chief Medaria Arradondo said in a statement. "By implementing this new policy, we're committing ourselves to continued improvement and ensuring best practices are cemented in policy within this department."
(c)2020 Star Tribune (Minneapolis)