How do local police departments get approval for no knock warrants?
FARGO-MOORHEAD (KVRR) – We’re looking at local police departments’ policies following the death of Amir Locke at the hands of a Minneapolis SWAT team during a no knock warrant.
He was armed on a couch when he was shot and killed.
What are the steps Fargo and Moorhead Police Departments go through to get a no knock warrant?
“The benefit would be the safety of all involved. Not only the officers, but the individuals inside the residence or structure that we may be using a search warrant to get into,” Fargo Police Lt. Bill Ahlfeldt said.
“The whole thing’s about trying to preserve lives while also accomplishing what we need to to bring people to prosecution and get them apprehended so they can’t continue any crimes or hurt other people,” Moorhead Police Chief Shannon Monroe said.
For Fargo Police to get a no knock warrant, the department must have probable cause a suspect is inside a building and get a judge to sign off on the operation.
It’s a bit different in Minnesota as a new law went into effect in September. A department must reach out to other agencies to make sure they aren’t also doing a similar search warrant on a suspect. The department must also have information leading it to believe a no knock warrant is the only way to safely apprehend someone or make sure evidence isn’t being destroyed. The officer leading the investigation must sign an affadavit with this information and it needs to go through their supervisor and chief for approval. Then a judge must sign off on it.
Moorhead Police Chief Shannon Monroe says his department already had that policy, but hasn’t done a no knock warrant since he became chief three-and-a-half years ago.
“We know these are high risk situations, so it’s just best to have more eyes on it, more levels of review that everybody’s on the same page that this is what we should be doing,” Monroe explained.
Ahlfeldt, the Commander of the Red River Valley Regional SWAT Team which covers Fargo and West Fargo, explains the way no knock warrants have been used in the last 10 years have changed.
The department used to use dynamic entry. Officers would breach a door immediately to overwhelm or surprise a suspect.
They now use a breach and hold technique.
“You might breach the door, you hold and then you call people out. Obviously we have technology that takes the place of people,” Ahlfeldt said.
Democrats in Minnesota’s Legislature will advance legislation banning police from using no knock raids. GOP leaders support a review of the state’s restrictions.
Governor Tim Walz says he would sign a ban if a bill gets to his desk.