U.S. Dept. of Justice Leapfrogs Legislation, Bans Chokeholds, Carotid Restraints and Limits Use of ‘No-Knock’ Warrants


By The Vanguard Staff

WASHINGTON D.C. – The U.S. Dept. of Justice Monday banned the use of the “chokehold” and
“carotid restraint” and dramatically limited the use of “no-knock” warrants to reflect the deadly misuse of the techniques in the last few years in communities of color.

“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. As part of that obligation, we are updating our Department of Justice policies on certain physical restraint techniques and on the execution of certain types of warrants,” according to a DoJ memo Monday.

All federal law enforcement and correctional officers are to be bound by the new policies.

The DOJ action preempts, for all federal agents, from the FBI to correctional officers, the passage of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act that would ban chokeholds. The bill passed the House but has yet come up for a Senate vote.

Noting that chokeholds apply pressure to the throat or windpipe and restrict an individual’s ability to breathe, and the carotid restraint restricts blood flow to the brain causing temporary unconsciousness, Attorney General Merrick Garland said the order is designed to help build trust and confidence between members of law enforcement and the public.

“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,” Garland said in a statement.

“In the wake of a number of recent tragedies, law enforcement around the nation is reexamining the way it engages with individuals who come into contact with the criminal justice system. The Department of Justice has undertaken a similar review and determined that the Department did not have consistent written policies across its law enforcement components on the use of “chokeholds” and the “carotid restraint” technique to subdue resisting suspects, or on the use of “no knock” entries when executing a warrant,” read the memo.

“The use of certain physical restraint techniques – namely chokeholds and carotid restraints – by some law enforcement agencies to incapacitate a resisting suspect has too often led to tragedy,” said the DOJ memo, which added “It is important that Department law enforcement components have an articulated policy in this area because these techniques are inherently dangerous.”

“It is a long-standing Department policy that ” [l]aw enforcement officers and correctional officers of the Department of Justice may use deadly force only when necessary, that is, 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,” read the memo.

“Given the inherent dangerousness of chokeholds and carotid restraints, and based on feedback from our law enforcement components on these techniques, Department law enforcement agents and correctional officers are hereby prohibited from using a chokehold or a carotid restraint unless that standard of necessity for use
of deadly force is satisfied,” the DOJ ordered.

Regarding “no knock” entries, the DOJ said “Because of the risk posed to both law enforcement and civilians during the execution of ‘no knock’ warrants, it is important that this authority be exercised only in the most compelling circumstances.”

Law enforcement agents, federal task force officers, will “limit the use of” of ‘no knock’ entries in connection with the execution of a warrant,” and if granted “agents must wait a reasonable amount of time based on the totality of the circumstances to permit the occupant to open the door before making entry into a

Officer safety, the destruction of evidence and national security as well as other “exceptional circumstance(s) are exceptions to the new DOJ orders.

“The Department’s law enforcement components shall immediately revise their policies to reflect
this guidance prohibiting the use of chokeholds and the carotid restraint technique unless deadly
force is authorized, and limiting “no knock” entries,” the DOJ memo ordered.


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