Justice Department Sets New Limits on Federal Law Enforcement Using Chokeholds and No-Knock Warrants

The United States Justice Department has issued new policies that place limitations on federal officers' use of chokeholds and no-knock warrants.


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As part of a new slate of policies rolled out by the United States Justice Department on Tuesday, federal officers are now banned from using chokeholds unless deadly force has been authorized, and executing no-knock warrants except for situations where the agent “has 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.”

Attorney General Merrick B. Garland said in a statement released on Tuesday that “building trust and confidence between law enforcement and the public” is one of the central missions for the department, and one of the reasons why these new limitations were implemented.

“Building trust and confidence between law enforcement and the public we serve is central to our mission at the Justice Department,” Garland said. “The limitations implemented today on the use of ‘chokeholds,’ ‘carotid restraints’ and ‘no-knock’ warrants, combined with our recent expansion of body-worn cameras to DOJ’s federal agents, are among the important steps the department is taking to improve law enforcement safety and accountability.”

The debate on the use of chokeholds by law officers has been ongoing since the death of Eric Garner in 2014, but these new policies also come over a year after protests were sparked across the country from the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. George Floyd suffocated to death after Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on his neck for several minutes while Taylor was shot and killed after two Louisville officers forced their way into her home.

The Justice Department also noted in their statement that “the use of certain physical restraint techniques — namely chokeholds and carotid restraints — by some law enforcement agencies to incapacitate a resisting suspect has too often led to tragedy.”

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