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Questions about the City of Minneapolis' policy on no-knock warrants continue to churn following Amir Locke's killing by a city police officer.

Mayor Jacob Frey took questions about the policy during Monday's Minneapolis City Council Policy and Government Oversight Committee meeting, with council members pressing the mayor on the shifting set of no-knock warrant rules and the confusion that has followed.

The policy — and the language surrounding it — has been heavily scrutinized since a SWAT officer shot and killed 22-year-old Locke on Feb. 2. Bodycam footage showed officers quietly open the door to the apartment Locke was in, and only begin announcing their presence as they entered the downtown Minneapolis unit.

The killing led the city to institute a new moratorium Friday that bars the Minneapolis Police Department from requesting or executing a no-knock warrant in most situations.

Which raised the question: What about the supposed ban on no-knock warrants Frey and the city announced, to much fanfare, in November of 2020?

As city leadership now explains, that policy was not actually a ban on no-knock entry search warrants. Rather, it required officers to always announce their presence and purpose for being there before entering a residence — even when executing a no-knock warrant.

"The November 2020 policy change, what it did was ended the practice of entering unannounced while serving no-knock warrants, barring dangerous circumstances," Frey told the committee Monday. 

It echoes what the mayor's office said in a statement Friday evening, which characterizes Frey's policy as "banning the execution of unannounced entries while serving no-knock warrants."

But that's not how the regulations were championed by Frey's campaign and one of the key groups publicly supporting his re-election bid. 

Through at least Oct. 23, 2021, the priorities section of the Frey campaign's website jacobfrey.org (archived here via the Wayback Machine) provided a list of, "Some of our administration’s top achievements," beneath which was the phrase: "Banning the use of no-knock warrants in the city of Minneapolis."

The language was removed sometime between that date and Oct. 26, 2021.

And All of Mpls — a well-funded, high-profile political committee that supported Frey's re-election and urged voters to reject the public safety ballot question — used this phrasing as well. "Banned no-knock warrants" was listed by the group as a "key accomplishment" during the mayor's first term, all the way up through at least Nov. 3, the day after the election.

That page was deleted between then and Feb. 4, 2022, two days after Locke's killing.

Council Member Jeremiah Ellison asked the mayor Monday about the public's perception of the no-knock policy and the actual substance of the November 2020 changes.

Frey pointed out the initial news announcement and policy materials published by the city did not use the word "ban." (Indeed, it characterized the change as a "new policy" governing the use of these no-knock or "unannounced," search warrants.) The mayor also said comments he made in interviews captured the "complexity and nuance" of the policy.

But, he continued, "throughout the campaign and certainly as more and more people and outside groups began weighing in, language became more casual, including my own, which did not reflect the necessary precision or nuance."

"And I own that," Frey added.

This roundabout way of saying that he and his campaign hadn't been entirely truthful about the "ban" on no-knock warrants was called out by some Democrats including 5th District Rep. Ilhan Omar, who tweeted: "Mayor Frey lied, Amir died and he needs to own that!"

The mayor, during his opening remarks of the committee meeting, said the new no-knock moratorium will remain in place as the city works with two national figures — Dr. Pete Kraska of Eastern Kentucky University and DeRay McKesson — to review and revise the warrant policy.

The mayor, when asked by Council Member Aisha Chughtai if they were doing the work voluntarily or being contracted, said he did not believe Kraska or McKesson were yet under contract to do the work described.

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