The White House recently stated that the Biden administration is considering adding further limits to federal law enforcement agents’ use of “no-knock” warrants.
The move comes after a no-knock warrant issued by a Minneapolis SWAT team led to the death of 22-year-old Amir Locke.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said that President Biden is considering limiting Homeland Security agents from using the search-warrant tactic. In September, the Justice Department announced that it would be limiting no-knock warrants for its agents as well.
Under the new limitations, law enforcement must obtain approval from two federal prosecutors and a supervisory law enforcement agent before seeking a warrant from a judge.
The new policy justifies the use of no-knock warrants in particular circumstances with limited exceptions. For example, FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Marshals Service and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agents must have “reasonable grounds to believe that knocking and announcing the agent’s presence would create an imminent threat of physical violence to the agent and/or another person.”
The DOJ’s website explains the updated policy: “The policy does recognize, however, that there may be rare circumstances when there is justification — other than physical safety — to execute a “no-knock” entry. If an exception is sought when there is no imminent threat of physical safety, the agent must first get approval from the head of the law enforcement component and the U.S. Attorney or relevant Assistant Attorney General before seeking judicial authorization for a no-knock warrant.”
No-knock warrants have been under fire since the controversial killing of Breonna Taylor. Activists argue the tactic is used disproportionately against minorities of color. Serving such warrants can be dangerous for officers, too. In the recent killing of Locke, the suspect could be seen on video wielding a pistol.
Locke’s parents say their son was “executed” and are calling for the Minneapolis interim police chief to be fired.
Psaki said that both citizens and law enforcement groups are in conversation to amend no-knock warrant policies.
“There’s a lot of agreement on that, to keep both citizens and law enforcement officers safe,” she said.