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U.S. Agents Should Act Against Officers' Excessive Force, DOJ Says

The Justice Department updated its use-of-force policy for the first time in 18 years, telling federal agents they have a duty to intervene if they see other law enforcement officials using excessive force The change that follows years of protests over police killings. The new policy is outlined in a memo from Attorney General Merrick Garland that circulated Monday among rank-and-file federal agents, the Washington Post reports. Garland wrote to the heads of the FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Drug Enforcement Administration, the U.S. Marshals Service and the Bureau of Prisons that the guidance aims to keep official policies up to date with current training and practices of federal law enforcement.

Garland’s memo makes clear that federal law enforcement officers also have a duty to act if they see someone who needs medical care, stating: “Officers will be trained in, and must recognize and act upon, the affirmative duty to request and/or render medical aid, as appropriate, where needed.” More broadly, the memo spells out what the Justice Department believes are best practices for law enforcement, repeating past guidance that officers should not fire their weapons at people solely because they are fleeing, nor fire into vehicles solely to make them stop. The policy also says that deadly force should not be used “against persons whose actions are a threat solely to themselves or property unless an individual poses an imminent danger of death or serious physical injury to the officer or others in close proximity.”


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