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Mayor Jacob Frey outlined significant changes to Minneapolis' search warrant execution policy Monday afternoon, revisions that — if implemented — would put the city at the forefront of reform in this area.

The new rules would prohibit law enforcement from applying for or executing no-knock or no-announce warrants, the mayor said during an afternoon news conference. In addition, new stipulations would be part of all knock-and-announce warrants:

  • Officers would be required to announce their presence during a daytime execution, then wait 20 seconds before entering the premises. That wait time goes up to 30 seconds for nighttime search warrant operations.
  • Knock-and-announce search warrants would be bucketed into three risk categories (low, medium, high). High-risk search warrants would require direct approval from the chief of police or a designee.
  • Officers serving the search warrant would be trained on new safe entry tactics, such as entering (after the wait period) and pausing, rather than continuously entering. This will require additional personnel and the use of new technology such as a ballistic shield.

Frey also promised new accountability measures, including a civilian oversight role and a limited public search warrant dashboard.

The mayor called this "an opportunity to be a leader nationwide on search warrant policy," saying they "want to do this right." He also described it as a "turning point" in the city's warrant and entry policies. 

The proposed rules come five weeks after the killing of Amir Locke, who was shot by a Minneapolis SWAT officer during a nighttime, no-knock operation at a downtown Minneapolis apartment building. Locke, 22, was the cousin of a homicide suspect, but not named in the search warrants applications or suspected of any wrongdoing.

Police bodycam video shows the SWAT team did not give any notice prior to entering the apartment. Within 9 seconds, as multiple officers yelled, SWAT team Officer Mark Hanneman shot and killed Locke, who was lying on the couch under a blanket. He was also holding a gun, which his family says he had a permit for, but not pointing it at any officers when the first shots are fired.

The Minnesota BCA is investigating Locke's killing, but so far no action has been brought against Hanneman either in the form of criminal charges, or workplace discipline. 

DeRay Mckesson, a national public safety reform advocate Frey brought in after Locke's killing, said Monday no other cities in the country require a waiting time on all search warrants, meaning Minneapolis would be breaking ground. A couple of states, Maryland and Maine, have 20-second waiting periods, but none go as far as the 30 seconds Frey and city leaders are proposing, Mckesson said. 

If implemented, Minneapolis would also be the only jurisdiction with different wait times for daytime and nighttime search warrant operations.  

"We think that most people cannot get from any part of their house to the door in 30 seconds," he said. 

Mckesson also cited analysis from Campaign Zero, an organization pushing for police reform, that gives the city a grade of 5.5 out of 15 currently for its search warrant policies. Implementing the changes discussed Monday would bump it up to 11 out of 15 — the best grade in the country, and the highest possible without changes to Minnesota state law, Mckesson said. 

"We understand this as the floor and not the ceiling," he said.

The changes have not been implemented however. In fact, they haven't yet been written. 

Frey said that over the next two to three weeks, staff will work on writing the policy to ensure it passes legal muster and meets the requirements he outlined Monday. Then, officers will begin training on the new requirements. 

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In addition, extreme exigent circumstances will still be an exception — a hostage situation, for example, or an in-progress domestic violence incident, Frey said. But the city is hoping to narrow what qualifies as "exigent" (which is currently defined by state law). One example, Frey said is making it so  "flushing drugs down the toilet" is not an exigent circumstance that would allow officers to enter without a 20-second waiting period.

Said Frey: "The purpose here is to give people who are trying to comply, people who are trying to do the right thing, giving them the ability to again, get there wherewithal, answer the call if possible, and to make sure that officers are then entering into a situation where an individual is well-informed about who is entering the place."

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