A "no knock warrant" is an order by a judge that allows law enforcement officers with a search warrant entry to a house without first announcing their presence. This is an exception to the usual practice. In most cases, officers are required to knock on doors to enter private homes in order to execute warrants.
Jen Psaki, White House press secretary, stated Monday that President Joe Biden was considering whether to limit federal agents' use this tactic following the death of Amir Locke (22-year-old Black man) by a Minneapolis SWAT team.
In September, the Justice Department announced that it would reduce federal agents' use of "no knock" warrants. Psaki stated that Biden is considering expanding his reach to other federal agencies. The tactic is also used by agents and officers at Homeland Security.
The revised Justice Department policy is more restrictive than the law allows and requires approval from federal prosecutors as well as a supervisory law enforcement officer to obtain a no knock warrant.
The updated policy applies to all Justice Department agents, including those working in the FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. The Marshals Service and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are restricted to using no-knock warrants in cases where an agent has "reasonable grounds to believe that knocking and announcing his presence would create an immediate threat of physical violence to him or another person."
Although there are some exceptions to this rule, agents who seek a warrant under those circumstances must have approval from their agency's director and U.S. Attorney or assistant attorney general before requesting a warrant from a judge.
No-knock warrants can be used in local police, which is where federal executive orders are not applicable. Residents who don't know who is entering the door are at risk from this tactic.
Breonna TAYLOR was killed by police in a raid at her Louisville home. The warrants were disproportionately used against Black or brown people.
These can be deadly for law enforcement officers.
The latest example is a police bodycam video that shows Locke being kicked by an officer while he was asleep on the couch. The video shows Locke wrapped in a blanket and beginning to move with a pistol in one hand, just before the officer fires his weapon.
Andre Locke, Karen Wells and their son Locke claim that their son was "executed" because he became agitated from deep sleep and reached out for a legal gun to defend himself. Family and activists demanded the dismissal of the interim chief police officer.
Psaki stated that the administration was deeply saddened by the "tragic death of Amir Locke" and that the White House has been in contact with civil rights groups, as well as law enforcement agencies, about reforming the policies.
She said, "There is a lot of agreement about that, to keep both residents and law enforcement officers safe."