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Federal authorities announce new limits on chokeholds and “no-knock” mandates, but do not ban them


WASHINGTON – The Justice Department announced new limits on strangulation and strike-ban warrants on Tuesday, but did not ban controversial law enforcement tactics that critics say have resulted in deaths unnecessary.

Under the new policy, law enforcement elements in the department, including the FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration, and the US Marshals Service, are prohibited from using these tactics except when they believe it to be. would save them from death or serious injury.

The policy prohibits “strangulation” and “carotid restriction” by law enforcement officers, unless they are in a situation that calls for forceful bodily injury to the officer or another. anybody.

The policy also restricts the use of “no knock” entries in the execution of a warrant to situations where an officer “has reasonable grounds to believe that knocking on the door and announcing the officer’s presence. would create an imminent threat of physical violence to the officer. and / or another person. “

This standard is stricter than what is permitted by law, the Justice Department said.

“Building trust between law enforcement and the public we serve is at the heart of our mission at the Department of Justice,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement. “The limitations implemented today on the use of ‘chokes,’ ‘carotid restraints’ and ‘no knocking’ warrants, combined with our recent expansion of body-worn cameras to federal DOJ agents, are part of the important steps the ministry is taking to improve the security and accountability of law enforcement. “

In a policy note, the Justice Department notes that “the use of certain techniques of physical restraint – namely strangulation and carotid strain – by some law enforcement agencies to neutralize a resistant suspect has too often leads to a tragedy “.

The strangulation debate escalated after the 2014 death of Eric Garner, who passed away after New York Police Officer Daniel Pantaleo put him in a strangulation and helped him compress his chest to the ground while arresting him on Staten Island for selling bulk cigarettes. Pantaleo was not criminally charged and was subsequently fired.

Likewise, attention has been drawn to the arrest warrants following the shooting death of Breonna Taylor at her Kentucky home in a botched police raid last year.

Federal law requires, in most cases, that officers knock and announce their presence when serving a warrant against a private home.

But the Supreme Court has ruled that “knocking and announcing” is not necessary when it would result in a threat of physical violence, destruction of evidence, or be futile.

“Because of the risk posed to both law enforcement and civilians in the execution of arrest warrants,” it is important that this authority be exercised only in the most compelling circumstances, “said the Minister. DOJ policy brief.