In the past year, the calls to end fatal encounters with law enforcement have only gotten louder. Many of the physical restraints and apprehension tactics that result in the unnecessary deaths of Black people are legally protected and allow officers to get away with taking lives. Now, a new directive attempts to cap the number of people dying in encounters with the law.
On Tuesday, the Justice Department announced new limits on chokeholds and no-knock warrants in a new policy for federal law enforcement agencies including the FBI, U.S. Marshals Service and DEA.
The new policy comes more than a year after the fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor during a botched police raid executing a no-knock warrant and seven years after Eric Garner’s death sparked debates over police chokeholds.
According to NBC News, the department notes in a policy memo that the tactics often result in preventable tragedies but it still makes an exception for their use.
The policy bars “chokeholds” and “carotid restraints” by law enforcement agents unless they are in a situation that calls for deadly force, 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 policy also 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.”
An agent must get approval from their agency and a federal prosecutor in order to obtain a no-knock warrant.
The directive only applies to law enforcement overseen by the Justice Department, Politico reports. It does not apply to state and local law enforcement or immigration enforcement agencies.
According to Politico, Attorney General Merrick Garland issued 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,” Garland said.
Politico also notes that the department previously announced in June that all federal law enforcement officials are required to wear body cameras during pre-planned operations.