Two months after a SWAT officer fatally shot Amir Locke during the execution of a nighttime, no-knock search warrant, the City of Minneapolis is set to institute a ban on these types of unannounced entries.
The city's new policy regarding search warrants executions goes into effect April 8, Mayor Jacob Frey's office announced Tuesday. The new policy mirrors what Frey detailed last month, changes the mayor claims would make Minneapolis "a leader nationwide on search warrant policy,"
The new rules bar no-knock search warrants in the city. Minneapolis police officers are prohibited from applying for or executing such a search warrant, whether for MPD or on behalf of another agency.
However, the new policy does still carve out some exceptions for "exigent circumstances," meaning immediate entry is needed to prevent imminent harm or render emergency aid, prevent imminent destruction of evidence, when officers are "in hot pursuit" and to stop the imminent escape of a suspect.
The new language does specify that the destruction or removal of narcotics is not an exigent circumstance, something the mayor highlighted in March as a needed change.
The new policy includes other significant changes to search warrants in the city:
- Officers executing a search warrant must "repeatedly knock" and announce their presence before entering.
- The officers also have to wait 20 seconds before going in during a daytime search, and 30 seconds for search warrants served during nighttime hours (8 p.m.-7 a.m.).
- Search warrants will be classified based on risk, with high-risk executions requiring sign-off from someone the rank of commander or above.
- New entry tactics, intended to ensure officers and people at the location being searched aren't in danger, will be used.
- Frey previously discussed using additional technology, such as a ballistic shield, as part of these safer entry tactics.
The mayor's office also touted a "more robust and thorough internal review and accountability process," and promised a public dashboard that will allow people to track search warrant executions by MPD officers.
Training for the new rules and regulations will begin "immediately," according to the media release.
"This policy is among the most forward-looking and extensive in the nation and will help keep both our residents and officers safe," Frey said Tuesday in an announcement. "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 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," Frey said when previewing the changes.