MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey and Police Chief Medaria Arradondo on Wednesday issued a new policy governing the police department’s use of unannounced entry or no-knock warrants.
Under the new policy, Minneapolis police officers will be required to announce their presence and purpose prior to entry. The exception is “exigent circumstances, like a hostage situation”, according to city officials.
It’s the first time in the police department’s history that there is an official policy governing the use of no-knock warrants. On an average year, the police department executes 139 such warrants.
“This is about proactive policymaking and instilling accountability,” Frey said. “We can’t prevent every tragedy, but we can limit the likelihood of bad outcomes. This new, no-knock warrant policy will set shared expectations for our community and clear and objective standards within the department.”
Frey and Arradondo say the policy codifies best practices in the department’s SWAT unit, and adds “transparency and shared expectations” for the community.
“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,” Arradondo said. “By implementing this new policy, we’re committing ourselves to continued improvement and ensuring best practices are cemented in policy within this department.”
The judge issuing the warrant will need to indicate whether or not the warrant permits an immediate entry or unannounced entry. Officers will still need to announce themselves as police and say their purpose is a search warrant before crossing the threshold of the door into the residence or building.
“In exceptional circumstances when giving announcements would create an imminent threat of physical harm to victims, officers or the public, the supervisor may authorize officers to execute an immediate entry without making an announcement. For those circumstances when announcements are not made for any part of a warrant execution, the supervisor involved shall include the facts supporting the decision in their incident report,” the policy reads.
“A Knock Can Save A Life”
The new policy comes eight months after 26-year-old Breonna Taylor was killed during a no knock raid at her apartment in Louisville, Kentucky.
In 2007, an armed SWAT team from MPD raided the wrong Minneapolis home, busting in on a family of eight and leaving the home riddled with gunshots.
“There’s been so much injustice done, there’s been so many things covered up by police departments across the country,” Minneapolis MAD DADS president VJ Smith said. “Finally, people have said ‘enough is enough’.”
Smith, a community activist, says the policy is a step in the right direction, but said it will require educating residents.
“Then you have a right,” Smith said. “You have a right, if the police didn’t knock, but we have to educate people so they know that.”
Smith acknowledged avoiding no-knock warrants could also come with risks to officers in certain situations, but said ultimately will do more good. He also said he hopes more community policing can take place.
“Usually criminals know what’s happening but there are innocent people in those homes that don’t know,” Smith said. “So a knock can save a life.”