Rochester NAACP calls for immediate suspension of no-hit search warrants

In the wake of the murder of Amir Locke by police in Minneapolisthe Rochester branch of the NAACP is asking local law enforcement to suspend the use of no-hit search warrants.

The moratorium on the practice, the organization said, should take effect immediately and remain in place, “pending the Minnesota Board Peace Officer Standards and Training determining whether the no-knock procedure is an appropriate use of the power of the police”.

Rochester NAACP leaders added that action should be taken on the issue, regardless of how often the practice has been used in recent years.

“The Rochester Branch of the NAACP is committed to ensuring that a badge is never used as a shield of liability. It is also unacceptable for local law enforcement to justify maintaining no-knock warrants because they have not been used in the recent past. Amir Locke, a young black man who slept in the bus lost his life because of this!

Both the Rochester Police Department and the Olmsted County Sheriff’s Office described the use of no-knock warrants as “extremely rare.”

In response to inquiries this week, a Rochester police spokesperson said the department had not issued a no-knock warrant in five years.

He has applied for two no-knock warrants since 2020, when the department began tracking search warrant data. However, none were conducted.

“The RPD’s Emergency Response Unit (ERU) moved to tactics other than unexpected entry into a residence several years ago,” the spokesperson said, adding that: “All warrants no-hit search warrants must be reviewed and approved by Chief Franklin or his delegate and another senior officer All no-hit 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 specify why officers cannot enter the residence by other means.

In the aftermath of Locke’s murder, however, state lawmakers are expected to debate new restrictions on no-knock warrants. Gov. Tim Walz has previously said he supports further reforms to the practice.

“I’m sorry it took this tragedy, but now there are voices saying, across the political spectrum, that this is dangerous,” Walz, a Democrat, said over the weekend. . interview with WCCO. “They are dangerous for, as you saw in this case, a young man; they are dangerous for the police.

With the Legislature now in session, however, State Sen. Carla Nelson (R-Rochester) urged caution in making quick decisions on the issue.

While calling Locke’s death a “tragedy”, Nelson said that “there is still a lot we don’t know and 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 have to think about this and not make a knee-jerk reaction. Public safety is serious business.

Locke, a 22-year-old black man, was killed last week as police executed a no-hit search warrant in connection with a homicide in St. Paul. Locke was not involved in the crime, nor was he listed on the search warrant.

Police have since arrested Mekhi Speed, 17, Locke’s cousin, in connection with the homicide. Speed ​​and two other people were the people the police were looking for during the raid, court documents show.

Sean Baker is a Rochester journalist and the founder of Med City Beat.

Cover photo: Protesters gather in Minneapolis after police shooting of Amir Locke/License via Getty

Amanda J. Marsh