Amir Locke’s father pushes no-knock warrant ban through legislature

A ban on almost all no-knock warrants is inching towards the Governor Tim Walz's desk with a push from the family of a man killed during the service of one.

Legislators got deep into details Tuesday with law enforcement veterans hoping to fine tune the ban on no-knock warrants.

But they also heard the emotional side of the story from Amir Locke’s father.

Minneapolis police were not looking for Amir Locke when they served a no-knock warrant at the home where he was sleeping in February 2022.

"Within ten seconds of the SWAT team entering the apartment, Amir was gone," said Andre Locke.

Amir’s father says his family supports law enforcement, in general, and grieves the recent losses of officers gunned down in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

But they want police officers to do their jobs without using no-knock warrants where they can go in outside of daylight hours and without knocking to announce their presence.

St. Paul police stopped using them in 2016.

Only its SWAT teams serves warrants now and commanders haven’t reported significant problems.

They say they try to get subjects out of the homes before sending investigators in.

"My goal is the safety of my personnel that are going into the address and the safety of the people we are trying to take into custody," said Senior Commander Tim Flynn of the St. Paul Police Department.

But some law enforcement leaders say no-knock warrants should be an alternative and may be the safest alternative in some situations.

"We kind of align with never say never, never say always with these warrants," said former Dakota County Sheriff Time Leslie. "We’d like to capture just that small area where we could use these in circumstances we may not have thought of yet."

Legislators have tweaked the language of the ban to allow a narrow exception approved by a judge, but the Locke family is hoping this ban paves the way to prevent a repeat of what happened to Amir.

"Our hearts are broken and nothing is going to change that," said Andre Locke. "Nothing’s going to bring him back. But we have the opportunity to lay the groundwork for his legacy."

The conference committee meets again Wednesday and staffers say they aim to finish their work by the end of the week.