Justice Department to Restrict Use of Chokeholds and “No Knock” Search Warrants

The Justice Department announced on Tuesday that it would limit the use of chokeholds and “no-knock” search warrants after protests over law enforcement brutality last year, Axios reports.

Multiple cities have already banned or restricted the use of chokeholds and no-knock warrants last year amid the demonstrations following the police killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.

The DOJ said in a statement that it is “explicitly prohibiting the use of ‘chokeholds’ and  ‘carotid restraints’ unless deadly force is authorized, and limiting the circumstances in which the department’s federal law enforcement components are authorized to use unannounced entries.” No knock warrants will be limited 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.”

Agents may also seek approval from the head of their division if the situation does not meet that criteria.

DOJ seeks to build trust:

“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 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.”

“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,” said Deputy Attorney General Monaco. “It is essential that law enforcement across the Department of Justice adhere to a single set of standards when it comes to ‘chokeholds,’ ‘carotid restraints’ and ‘no-knock’ entries. This new policy does just that and limits the circumstances in which these techniques can be used.”

New federal monitor program:

Garland on Monday also introduced new rules for monitors that oversee state and local police departments as part of consent decrees and court settlements.

"The department has found that, while consent decrees and monitorships are important tools to increase transparency and accountability, the department can and should do more to improve their efficiency and efficacy," Garland told police chiefs at a conference, adding that "organizational change takes time, but a consent decree cannot last forever."

The new rules will cap monitor fees, set term limits for monitors, and recommends new transparency measures. Garland also rolled back a Trump administration memo that restricted the use of consent decrees in investigations of police departments.

"Monitorships have proven to be vital tools in upholding the rule of law and promoting transformational change in the state and local governmental entities where they are used," Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta said in a memo before the announcement. "The department must do everything it can to guarantee that they remain so, by working to ensure that monitorships are conducted efficiently, consistently, and with meaningful input and participation from the communities they serve."


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