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In the wake of the police killing of Amir Locke in Minneapolis, the Rochester Branch of the NAACP is calling on local law enforcement agencies to suspend the use of no-knock search warrants.
The moratorium on the practice, the organization said, should take effect immediately and remain in place, “pending a determination by the Minnesota Board Peace Officer Standards and Training as to whether the no knock procedure is an appropriate use of police power.”
Rochester NAACP leaders added that action should be taken on the issue regardless of how frequently the practice has been used in recent years.
“The Rochester Branch of the NAACP is dedicated to ensuring a badge is never used a shield for accountability. It is also unacceptable for local law enforcement to justify keeping no-knock warrants in place because they haven’t been used in recent past. Amir Locke, a young black man sleeping on the coach lost his life because of this!”
Both the Rochester Police Department and Olmsted County Sheriff’s Office have described the use of no-knock warrants as “extremely uncommon.”
In response to inquiries this week, a spokesperson for Rochester Police said the department has not conducted a no-knock warrant in five years.
It has applied for two no-knock warrants since 2020, when the department began tracking search warrant data. However, neither were conducted.
“RPD’s Emergency Response Unit (ERU) transitioned to tactics other than the unannounced entry into a residence several years ago,” the spokesperson said, adding that: “All no-knock search warrants must be reviewed and approved by Chief Franklin or his designee and another superior officer. All no-knock search warrants are then reviewed by the county attorney’s office and presented to a judge for review and approval.”
Under legislation passed last year in St. Paul, all no-knock warrants must have prior approval from a police chief or supervisor. The laws also require police to detail why officers can’t enter the residence by other means.
In the aftermath of the killing of Locke, however, state lawmakers are expected to debate further restrictions on no-knock warrants. Gov. Tim Walz has already stated he supports additional reforms to the practice.
“I’m sorry it took this tragedy but there are voices now saying, across the political spectrum, that these are dangerous,” Walz, a Democrat, said during a weekend interview with WCCO. “They’re dangerous for, as you saw in this case, a young man; they’re dangerous for police.”
With the Legislature now in session, however, state Sen. Carla Nelson (R-Rochester) urged caution in making a quick decision on the issue.
While calling the death of Locke a “tragedy,” Nelson said “there is still a lot we don’t know, and a lot we need to learn.”
“While there are many questions, I am also cautious about taking legitimate tools away from police in dangerous situations,” Nelson said in a written statement. “We need to think this through and not make a knee-jerk reaction. Public safety is serious business.”
Locke, a 22-year-old Black man, was killed last week while police executed a no-knock search warrant in connection to a homicide in St. Paul. Locke was not involved in the crime, nor was he listed in the search warrant.
Police have since arrested 17-year-old Mekhi Speed, Locke’s cousin, in connection to the homicide. Speed and two others had been the individuals police were looking for in the raid, court documents show.
Sean Baker is a Rochester journalist and the founder of Med City Beat.
Cover photo: Protesters gather in Minneapolis following the police shooting of Amir Locke / Licensed via Getty
This content was originally published here.