This is the latest time he’s insinuated an end to the practice … while carefully excluding the fact that the practice hasn’t actually ended.
“Time is a flat circle.” “There is nothing new under the sun.” “Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” Whichever classic idiom you prefer, the message is all roughly the same: Some things just don’t change.
So it is in Minneapolis, where Mayor Jacob Frey (D) this week rolled out his ostensible ban on so-called “no knock” warrants, like the one that resulted in the police shooting of Amir Locke in early February. And if you’re getting a distinct feeling of deja vu, that’s because this is just the latest in a long history of Frey claiming he’s banned the widely criticized practice ... without actually doing so.
Per the newly instituted ban, which went into effect Friday, officers must “continuously knock and announce their presence and purpose prior to entry” and are required to adhere to a “minimum wait time of 20 seconds for any warrant and 30 seconds for warrants executed during nighttime hours.” Crucially, however, it still allows for no-knock entrances under what the city calls “exigent circumstances” such as to prevent “imminent harm or to provide emergency aid, and to stop “imminent destruction or removal of evidence” except drugs. Speaking with the Star Tribune newspaper, Minneapolis Police Department spokesperson Howie Padilla claimed that it would be up to the officers themselves to determine whether an exigent circumstance exists, based on “their experience, their training, and their own observations.”
In other words, no, this is not a “ban” on no-knock warrants. It’s just new rules for how, and when, they’re allowed.
But consider that Frey ran for re-election in 2021 on a campaign promise of having already banned no-knock warrants. Only, they weren’t banned, just restricted under certain circumstances. And when the Minneapolis City Council asked him to explain the gaping discrepancy between campaign rhetoric and actual policy, Frey claimed that “as more and more people and outside groups began weighing in, language became more casual, including my own, which did not reflect the necessary precision or nuance.” Which is a particularly slick way of saying, “I was overwhelmed by the input of various stakeholders, so I fibbed.”
Then in February, Frey did it again, announcing a “moratorium” on no-knock warrants — which contained a similar carve-out for exigent circumstances, that would allow police to enter a home unannounced.
“While we believe Minneapolis’s new warrant policy is a step in the right direction, we renew our concerns about other potential loopholes that could lead to more killings by police,” explained the Minnesota ACLU in a statement. “The new policy still allows police to enter immediately if there are ‘exigent circumstances,’ a category that leaves too much discretion to police.”
In other words, it’s possible that sometime soon Frey will claim to have banned no-knock warrants. Again.