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Department of Justice directs federal agents to limit chokeholds, no-knock entries

Department of Justice
Posted at 11:15 AM, Sep 14, 2021

The Department of Justice on Tuesday announced that it was adopting policy changes to limit the use of chokeholds and "no-knock" entries when serving warrants.

In a memorandum issued to the directories of various federal agencies — including the FBI, U.S. Marshals and the DEA — Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco said that federal agents should avoid using chokeholds or "carotid restraints" unless the use of deadly force has been authorized.

According to a press release, the Department of Justice says that "deadly force" is defined as "when 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."

The memorandum also directed agents to avoid using "no-knock" entries unless 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."

According to the press release, the new policy is "narrower than what is permitted by law," and noted that agents must now first get "supervisory approval" from both a prosecutor and the agent's law enforcement department.

Activists have been calling for limiting the use of chokeholds and no-knock warrants in recent years, particularly since last summer amid nationwide protests against police brutality and systemic racism.

Several people, including Eric Garner, have been killed in police custody through the use of chokeholds and other restraining methods. Breonna Taylor was shot and killed by police in her home last year when officers entered her home during a no-knock warrant.

"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."