On Tuesday, September 14th, 2021, the Department of Justice announced that federal law enforcement officers are prohibited from using chokeholds and the carotid restraint technique unless deadly force has been authorized, and that no-knock entries should only be utilized in limited circumstances. The memorandum, which was sent to the DOJ’s law components by Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco the day prior to the press release, cites recent tragedies and the need to have consistent policies across its various law components as the reasoning behind the department-wide policy changes.
The DOJ announcement was made over a year after the deaths of both George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. In March 2020, Taylor, a 26-year-old Black woman, was killed by Louisville, Kentucky police officers while they executed a no-knock warrant during a botched narcotics raid. The suspect that the Louisville officers were looking for was not in the home with Taylor. Although some of the officers involved have been terminated, and one has been indicted on three counts of wanton endangerment, none are facing criminal charges for directly killing Taylor. In another tragedy, Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, was killed by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin during an arrest in May 2020. Chauvin, who has since been convicted and sentenced to 22.5-years in prison, knelt on Floyd’s neck for over 9-minutes while Floyd told officers that he could not breathe. The deaths of Taylor and Floyd sparked “Black Lives Matter” protests across the country that called for an end to police brutality and systematic racism. As a result, many cities and states have banned both chokeholds and no-knock warrants. For example, the city council in Louisville voted to ban no-knock warrants and require officers that are executing warrants to wear body cameras, in legislation titled Breonna’s Law. The city of Minneapolis, where Floyd was killed, also banned chokeholds following his death.
The department-wide policy changes, which are to be immediately implemented, will impact federal law enforcement officers employed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Drug Enforcement Administration, among others, but they will not apply to immigration enforcement agencies overseen by the Department of Homeland Security, nor local and state law enforcement agencies. According to Attorney General Merrick Garland, “the limitations implemented on the use of chokeholds, carotid restraints, and no-knock warrants, combined with the 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.”
Instructors, click on the link below to download this week’s lecture for use in your classroom.
The deck contains a writing prompt, a debate question, as well as other assessment questions.
- Writing: Explain why the Department of Justice is implementing these department-wide policy changes.
- Debate: According to NBC News, the Department of Justice’s new policy changes limit the use of chokeholds, carotid restraints, and no-knock entries but stopped short of banning them. Do you believe that the Department of Justice should have banned, not limited, these controversial law enforcement tactics?
- Poll: The new limitations on the use of chokeholds, carotid restraints, and no-knock entries will help improve law enforcement safety and accountability. (Agree or Disagree).
- Short Answer: Discuss the impact that the deaths of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd have had on policing at the local, state, and federal levels.
Cover Photo: iStock.com/JRL Photography