New DOJ Memo Allows Response For “Excessive Force” Cases

( )- For the first time since 2004, the Department of Justice has modified its use-of-force policy, allowing federal agents to intervene when other law enforcement authorities allegedly use excessive force.

According to reports, Attorney General Merrick Garland sent a rank-and-file memo outlining the new policy on Friday. Years of demonstrations over police killings of suspects may have influenced the adjustments. The Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the United States Marshals Service, and the Bureau of Prisons received Garland’s four-page memo.

The memo provides improved federal law enforcement training procedures.
It states that officers will be trained in and must recognize and act on the affirmative duty to intervene to prevent or stop, as appropriate, any officer from using excessive force. They must also avoid engaging in any other use of force that violates the Constitution, other federal laws, or Department policies on the reasonable use of force.

The policy, which is set to take effect in July, does not obligate state and local police, or any federal law enforcement agencies not within the Justice Department’s jurisdiction, to apply the same approach, according to reports.

Federal law enforcement officials now have explicit requirements under the “duty to intervene” update to avoid excessive use of force and speak out when someone requires immediate medical attention. According to the memo, officers will be instructed on the affirmative duty to request and or administer medical help as appropriate and must identify and act on this duty.

According to Larry Cosme, president of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, the policy amendment did not reflect a single event or timeline of police activity. It is police modernization, and rules need to be updated to match what’s going on in our society, he explained to the media.

The new policy shows that officers may use deadly force only when there is an imminent danger of death or serious physical injury to the officer or others in close proximity. It is the policy of the Department of Justice to value and preserve human life, the memo states.