House Democrats propose restrictions on no-knock raids

Minnesota House Democrats say they'll advance legislation as soon as next week with new restrictions on no-knock warrants in the wake of the Minneapolis Police raid that killed Amir Locke last week.

It won't be a ban: no-knock raids would be allowed in some cases.

The House DFL declined to release final language of their bill, saying it is still being finalized. Members of Locke's family endorsed the push during a Tuesday afternoon news conference.

"We hope it happens, because we don’t want another Amir Locke, we don't want a Breonna Taylor," said Nneka Constantino, Locke's cousin.

State Rep. Athena Hollins, DFL-St. Paul, says her legislation will be similar to what she proposed in 2021, which would have allowed police to conduct no-knock warrants in first-degree murder cases, hostage taking, terrorism, kidnapping, and human trafficking. That bill did not pass.

The yet-to-be-released measure will include a narrower list of exceptions, Hollins said.

Democrats said the 2021 bill, if it had passed, would have prevented Locke's death. But that's not entirely clear, because the Minneapolis SWAT team entered the Bolero Flats apartment unit as part of a homicide investigation involving Locke's cousin. Amir Locke was not the target of that investigation.

"I think that’s a really fair critique of this," Hollins said, when FOX 9 asked whether last year's bill would've had an impact. "That’s one of the reasons why we’re continuing the conversation about what we want to include and what we don’t want to include as exceptions."

In a Monday news release, House Democrats said they would announce a proposed ban on no-knock warrants. By Tuesday, the DFL clarified that they would propose restrictions, not a ban.

The bill will get hearings in the House Public Safety committee next week, Speaker Melissa Hortman, DFL-Brooklyn Park, told reporters.

The frequency of no-knock warrants varies by jurisdiction. Minneapolis Police executed 78 such warrants in 2021 and more than 100 per year each of the five previous years, according to police data. By contrast, St. Paul Police said they haven't carried out a no-knock warrant since 2016.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Warren Limmer, R-Maple Grove, told reporters Monday that no-knock warrants are useful in some circumstances.

"Police activity is very challenging, especially when they're trying to arrest a dangerous criminal," Limmer said. "There are times when you have to use extreme measures to make their arrest, otherwise the public is in danger."

Senate Majority Leader Jeremy Miller, R-Winona, said the Senate would seek feedback from the community and law enforcement about no-knock warrants. The Senate GOP did not make themselves available to reporters Tuesday after the DFL's news conference.

Last year, police groups opposed Hollins' measure, saying it would make dangerous police work even more challenging. The Legislature ultimately passed a more limited set of restrictions on how no-knock raids are conducted.

"Although we were successful in passing some restrictions in last year’s budget, it is clear those were insufficient and we have more work to do," Hortman said Tuesday.