DOJ limits use of chokeholds and no-knock warrants

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Attorney General Merrick Garland speaking at a press conference. Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

The Department of Justice announced Tuesday that would scale back federal law enforcement agencies’ use of chokeholds and “no-knock” search warrants.

Why it matters: The federal policy overhaul comes as the Justice Department pursues investigations of misconduct in police departments across the country.

  • Several local governments have banned or limited the use of chokeholds and/or no-knock warrants by local law enforcement after calls for police reform grew last year following the police killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.

Details: Under the Justice Department’s new policies, federal law enforcement are prohibited from using “carotid restraints” and chokeholds unless deadly force is authorized.”

  • The policy also “generally limits the use of ‘no knock’ entries in connection with the execution of a warrant to situations where an 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,” the DOJ said.
  • Agents seeking “no knock” warrants must get “supervisory approval from both a federal prosecutor as well as the agent’s law enforcement component,” the department added.

What they’re saying: “Building trust and confidence between law enforcement and the public we serve is central to our mission at the Justice Department,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement.

  • “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.”

Go deeper: Federal officers now required to wear body cameras when serving warrants, DOJ says

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