The Justice Department is updating its use-of-force policy for the first time since 2004, directing federal agents to step in if they see any law enforcement officers use excessive force that violates the law, according to the Washington Post. This change comes after many protests and calls for policy changes against police brutality.
In the memo outlined by Attorney General Merrick Garland, federal agents have an “affirmative duty to intervene to prevent or stop, as appropriate, any office from engaging in excessive force or any other use of force that violates the Constitution, other federal laws, or Department policies on the reasonable use of force.”
The 2004 version states that officers can 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.”
“Officers will be trained in, and must recognize and act upon, the affirmative duty to intervene to prevent or stop, as appropriate, any officer from engaging in excessive force or any other use of force that violates the Constitution, other federal laws, or Department policies on the reasonable use of force,” the memo states.
“The policy reflects the excellence we have come to expect from the Department’s officers and agents, while protecting their safety and the safety of the people and communities we serve,” Garland said.
This new policy, slated to take effect July 19, does not compel state and local police — or federal law enforcement agencies outside the Justice Department — to follow a similar standard. DOJ must “designate a senior official with responsibility for implementation” for this new decree.