Is DOJ right to limit choke holds and 'no-knock' warrants for federal officers?
- On Tuesday, September 14, 2021, the Department of Justice announced a prohibition on the use of chokeholds “unless deadly force is authorized” and an update on existing “no knock” entries to “instances where physical safety is at stake.”
- The policy spurred on from the death of Breonna Taylor, who was fatally shot in the event of a no-knock warrant. Louisville Detective Joshua Jaynes had requested a 'no-knock' search warrant of Taylor's home after investigating ex-boyfriend Jamarcus Glover, who was known to the police as a drug trafficker.
- The National Conference of State Legislatures reported that 17 states, including Minnesota, banned or restricted the use of chokeholds after George Floyd’s death.
- The murder of George Floyd by Derek Chauvin on May 25, 2020, was the catalyst for “nationwide protests” against racism and police brutality. Chauvin pinned Floyd to the ground and kneed into the back of Floyd’s neck which led to his death.
The DOJ's decision to limit chokeholds and 'no-knock' entries was a logical one, both lawfully and morally, continuing a forward-thinking dialogue formed recently between the country's residents and the legal system. Following the murder of citizen George Floyd involving a carotid hold by an officer, as well as Black Lives Matter demonstrations upscaling in the US and internationally, this DOJ ruling has the potential to cultivate trust between officers and US citizens. The country has loudly voiced its concerns and wishes involving US policing systems, and its citizens are finally witnessing introductory changes being produced by the leaders that serve them.
The DOJ recognizes that US citizens consider methods like chokeholds violent when used by officers who have sworn to protect the people they serve. The court's ruling makes a fair assumption in directing that 'unless deadly force is authorized,' there is no need for violent actions taken by police. Additionally, when unannounced entries by police are invasive and unnecessary, it inconveniences citizens at the least or puts them in fatal dangers at the worst, as in the case of Breonna Taylor, who was shot and killed by officers who conducted a no-knock raid in her home.
The DOJ has restricted the practice by requiring officers to obtain higher-up permission prior to forced entry. Limiting such a tactic maintains checks and balances within the police department, which closely represents our country's projected values. This decision is a positive step towards creating a fairer policing system in the United States.
The recently implemented Department of Justice policy is both demeaning and dangerous for federal law enforcement officers who put their lives on the line to protect their communities. While some of the tactics officers may have to implement are somewhat unpleasant, they are often necessary.
The policy is problematic in that it only allows officers to use 'carotid restraints' if deadly force is authorized. While this restraint method is controversial, it is necessary in some cases and may prevent a suspect from continuing to act out in a way that may lead to deadly force. It is also a threat to public safety if police officers are unable to make an arrest successfully, thus allowing for a violent criminal to escape.
While 'no-knock' entries are a grey area as far as their constitutionality, they, too, may be necessary or lifesaving. In some cases, when knocking can give a suspect enough time to arm themselves against police or destroy evidence, or when a victim is inside a residence and may be in danger, 'no-knock' entries are crucially important.
The DOJ claims this policy change will foster 'trust' between law enforcement officers and their communities. However, it appears to be a political move based on pressures from equality groups, as carotid restraints and 'no-knock' entries can be associated with the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, respectively.
The updated policy primarily applies to federal officers who may find themselves against the most violent criminals, gangs, and cartel members. They, if anyone, certainly deserve the right to take necessary action against a non-compliant suspect, even if that means restraining them or knocking down a door.