State lawmakers to consider severe restrictions on ‘no-knock’ warrants

(KSTP) – The Minnesota Legislature is about to start its third year of grappling with laws regarding police accountability and procedures after the death of George Floyd in 2020. Now, the death of Amir Locke moved police accountability back near the top of the legislative agenda.

“We are here to hopefully end no-knock warrants as the Minneapolis Police Department uses them,” Rep. Athena Hollins (DFL-St. Paul) said Tuesday, adding that she’ll author a bill to significantly restrict the use of “no-knock” warrants.

Specifically, according to a news release from the House DFL Caucus, “The new legislation includes a high bar for exceptions, only allowing no-knock warrants to be used in extreme circumstances where there is evidence that a civilian’s life would otherwise be put in danger.”

A cousin of Locke’s, Nneka Constantino, took part in an online news conference with Democratic lawmakers.

“You shouldn’t be gunned down by police in your home or in a place where you think you’re safe, especially if you’ve broken no law or if you haven’t done anything specifically to warrant that moment,” Constantino said.

Rep. Cedrick Frazier (DFL-New Hope) said any changes will require help from Senate Republicans.

“My question to my GOP colleagues is ‘What will you do in this moment?’ Will you act on Rep. Hollin’s bill and the other bills addressing accountability or will you continue to prioritize politics and push false narratives to score political points,” Frazier said.

Republican Senate Majority Leader Jeremy Miller said his caucus will listen. In a news release, he said, in part, “feedback from the community and from law enforcement will be an integral part of this conversation. Everyone deserves to feel safe. It is imperative to have proper policies in place to protect the public and law enforcement.”

A hearing on a bill in the House could happen next week.