Justice Department Limits Law Enforcement’s Use of Chokeholds and No-Knock Warrants

The Department of Justice announced this week a department-wide policy update on chokeholds and ‘no knock’ search warrants. 

The new policy limits federal law enforcement agencies’ use of these tactics. Chokeholds and “carotid restraints” are prohibited unless deadly force is authorized, and the use of no-knock warrants, also known as unannounced entries, have been limited as well. 

This announcement comes as the DOJ continues a pursuit of misconduct allegations in police forces across the United States. 

Following the police killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, local governments in various parts of the U.S. have banned or at least limited the use of chokeholds as well as no-knock warrants. George Floyd was killed by an officer’s use of a neck restraint tactic during an arrest, and Breonna Taylor was killed by an officer’s use of an unannounced entry.

Calls for overall police reform remain strong since George Floyd’s killing sparked nation-wide — and global — protests. The policy update memo did not specifically name neither Floyd nor Taylor, but the DOJ did acknowledge that the use of these tactics by some agencies has “too often led to tragedy.” 

The policy change is aimed at federal law enforcement agencies, affecting federal agents, as well as local and state officers who serve on federal task forces.The FBI, DEA, U.S. Marshal Services are among the agencies who will have to follow the new policy implementation. 

While the federal policy change limits the use of these tactics, it does not ban them. The actions are barred except when the officer thinks that doing some could save them from death or serious injury. 

These new policies are in hope to build trust and confidence between law enforcement and the public. 

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