After the death of George Floyd in May of last year, the nation engaged in fierce debates about how to curb the problem of excessive force in the land of the free. After massive proposals from then-Congressman Justin Amash and Senator Rand Paul who wanted to end qualified immunity and no-knock warrants respectively, were largely ignored, other municipalities stepped in and offered local solutions. Minneapolis — the department who killed Floyd — was one of these actors who claimed that they were going to heavily restrict the use of no-knock warrants. But according to new data, it appears this was all smoke and mirrors.
In November 2020, Minneapolis made a highly welcomed announcement noting that they were going to curb the use of no-knock warrants by placing heavy restrictions on their use.
Under those guidelines, no-knock warrants are only acceptable in high-risk circumstances such as a hostage situation, when “giving an announcement would create an imminent threat of physical harm to victims, officers or the public.”
“Outside of limited, exigent circumstances, like a hostage situation, MPD officers will be required to announce their presence and purpose prior to entry,” the department’s press release stated.
“This is really about proactive policymaking, and we can’t prevent every tragedy, but we can limit the likelihood of tragedies occurring and then set a clear, objective standard for both the police and the community,” Mayor Jacob Frey said after the announcement.
According to a report in the Minneapolis Post, prior to this announcement, the department was carrying out a no-knock warrant roughly every two and a half days, or 139 a year.
Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo said at the time that the restrictions were making the existing “best practices” the official standards. However, according to new data, it appears that the department cannot wean themselves from the addiction to kicking in doors without announcing themselves.
A department spokesperson told the Post that city cops had obtained 90 no-knock warrants since the new policy was announced last November. This is close to the same rate at which they have already been obtaining them — meaning that nothing has changed, despite the hot air.
“Ninety, especially compared to previous numbers before the policy, it clearly isn’t the exception,” said Mary Moriarty, the former top public defender in Hennepin County.
“What I took away was that no-knock warrants would be the exception,” Moriarty said. But she, and many others are now learning that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.
As TFTP has consistently reported, the idea of ceasing the use of no-knock raids is revolutionary when it comes to policing in the United States and its importance cannot be overstated.
Across the country—largely due to the failed drug war—police conduct tens of thousands of no-knock raids a year.
Breonna Taylor was murdered during one of them. Countless others are beaten, terrorized, and killed as well, and just like Breonna, cops often act on bad information.
“In theory, no-knock raids are supposed to be used in only the most dangerous situations … In reality, though, no-knock raids are a common tactic, even in less-than-dangerous circumstances,” Vox wrote in an revealing investigation in 2015. Case in point, Breonna Taylor.
A whopping 79 percent of these raids — like the one used to murder Dennis and Rhogena Tuttle in Houston, TX in 2019 — are for search warrants only, mostly for drugs. Just seven percent of no-knock raids are for crisis situations like hostages, barricaded suspects, or active shooters, according to an investigation by the ACLU.
What’s more, the study by the ACLU found that in 36 percent of SWAT deployments for drug searches, and possibly in as many as 65 percent of such deployments, no contraband of any sort was found.
Not only do these raids appear to be mostly unproductive, but they are often carried out on entirely innocent people based on lies, wrong information, or corruption, laying waste to the rights—and lives—of unsuspecting men, women, children, and their pets.
As we’ve seen in the case of Roderick Talley, drug task forces routinely conspire together to raid the homes of innocent people as a means of justifying themselves.
Raiding homes with no-knock warrants was proven so horrifyingly ineffective in 2019 in Houston with the murder Dennis and Rhogena Tuttle, that Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo vowed to end them. It’s time all police chiefs do the same.