Minneapolis plans to have its Department of Civil Rights review MPD's no-knock warrant policy.
The Office of Police Conduct Review will take on this "special review," the city announced Monday. The goal will be for the office to identify and recommend "specific changes and improvements" to the policy, which is facing increased scrutiny following the police killing of Amir Locke.
SWAT team officer Mark Hanneman shot the 22-year-old Locke less than 10 seconds into a no-knock search at an apartment in downtown Minneapolis' Bolero Flats building. Recently revealed court documents show the search warrant applications, filed by the St. Paul Police Department, did not initially request a nighttime, no-knock raid. Sources have told Bring Me The News the Minneapolis Police Department pushed to have both as an option.
The SWAT team had been searching for evidence possibly connected to a St. Paul homicide. Locke's name doesn't appear a single time in the search warrant applications, or in the criminal charges later filed against his 17-year-old cousin. There is no indication Locke had any knowledge of, or connection to, that crime.
“First and foremost, I want to acknowledge the tragic death of Mr. Amir Locke,” said Interim Civil Rights Director Alberder Gillespie in Monday's announcement from the city. “Amir’s life mattered. There are no words to express the depths of our sympathy for Mr. Locke’s family and loved ones.”
The city promises a "detailed and comprehensive review" of MPD's no-knock policy from the Office of Police Conduct Review, a "neutral agency" that also investigates complaints of officer misconduct.
This review is not a criminal investigation, the city said, as that's not the office's role. Instead, its overarching job is to ensure the police department is providing public safety in a "lawful and nondiscriminatory manner," the release said, while also representing civilian oversight of MPD.
Following Locke's killing, Mayor Jacob Frey and Interim Police Chief Amelia Huffman instituted a moratorium barring the Minneapolis Police Department from requesting or executing a no-knock warrant in most situations. This led to questions about how the new moratorium differed from a previously announced November 2020 policy change, which the mayor's re-election campaign characterized as "banning" no-knock warrants, despite that not being the case.
“I am fully supportive of Interim Director Gillespie’s vision and quick action in mobilizing the Office of Police Conduct Review to pursue this work and I trust we’ll have a stronger process for it,” Frey said in a statement Monday. “This important review will complement our engagement with external experts to provide needed clarity around the impacts of these policies for both community and officers.”