The Justice Department on Tuesday announced a ban on "carotid restraints, chokeholds and "no-knock" entries for its law enforcement agencies unless the use of deadly force is authorized.
The new directive applies only to law enforcement overseen by the department, including the FBI, Drug Enforcement Agency and U.S. Marshals Service. The policy does not apply to immigration enforcement agencies, which are overseen by the Department of Homeland Security, nor does it apply to state and local law enforcement.
“Building trust and confidence between law enforcement and the public we serve is central to our mission at the Justice Department,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland. “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.”
In a press release announcing the new policy, the department said chokeholds and carotid restraints would only be allowed in situations where "the officer has a reasonable belief that the subject of such force poses an imminent danger of death or serious physical injury to the officer or to another person.” No-knock warrants, where an agent does not knock and announce their identity, are prohibited except when an agent believes doing so would create a threat of physical violence to either the agent or someone else. To obtain a no-knock warrant, an agent must get approval from both their law enforcement component and a federal prosecutor.
Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco emphasized the importance of implementing single set of standards for the entire department, which also includes the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobcco, Firearms and Explosives as well as the Bureau of Prisons.
“As members of federal law enforcement, we have a shared obligation to lead by example in a way that engenders the trust and confidence of the communities we serve,” she said in the statement.
This announcement comes over a year after the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. Taylor was killed by police in March 2020 after officers executed a no-knock warrant on her home, though the suspect in their investigation had already been apprehended. Floyd was murdered in May 2020 after Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for over nine minutes. Chauvin was later convicted on murder charges.
The DOJ opened policing probes into both the Minneapolis Police Department and the Louisville Metro Police Department. Additionally, the DOJ announced in June that all federal law enforcement officials would be required to wear body cameras "during pre-planned law enforcement operations."