news congressman applauds federal policy changes for law enforcement

Congressman applauds federal policy changes for law enforcement

Don BeyerThe Department of the Interior announced new law enforcement policies for officers on Monday.

Key changes include changes advocated by U.S. Rep. Don Beyer of Virginia.

“The reforms announced by the Department of the Interior today will increase transparency and accountability while improving trust in the communities its officers police,” Beyer said in a press release. “I have long urged the adoption of body cameras for all federal police, advancing legislation with Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton to achieve this, and Interior’s decision to adopt them now is very welcome. The updated use-of-force guidelines are particularly salient to my district following the killing of Bijan Ghaisar, and the restriction on no-knock entries is an important policy that should be adopted by police everywhere. I thank Secretary Haaland and her team for prioritizing police reform, and with my colleagues will be following closely as these proposals implemented.”

On Nov. 17, 2017, according to a press release, police pursued and shot Bijan Ghaiser in Washington D.C. Beyer represents the Northern Virginia suburbs of the area, and has worked with Ghaiser’s family to seek answers from federal agencies to determine what happened that evening.

According to a press release, the new policy changes “will help advance safe, transparent, accountable and effective policing practices, build public trust and strengthen public safety.”

The changes provide clear guidelines for use of force standards, require law enforcement officers to wear body-worn cameras and restrict use of no-knock warrants. The changes are part of President Joe Biden’s May 2022 Executive Order to Advance Effective, Accountable Policing and Strengthen Public Safety.

Deputy Secretary Tommy Beaudreau leads the Departmental Law Enforcement Task Force, which was established last year to implement standards of protection, build trust with the public and provide necessary policy guidance, resources and training.

“Every single day across the country, the Interior Department’s law enforcement officers risk their lives to safeguard our communities, public lands and waters and critical resources,” Beaudreau said in the press release. “In reforming policing practices, the Department is helping strengthen the unique connection that law enforcement officers have with the communities that they serve and move the nation forward towards community-focused law enforcement.”

The agency’s Departmental Manual has a new chapter about body-worn cameras, that all officers should wear them, minimum requirements for downloading, documentation and storage of footage should be set, and training standards and annual training follow-up are to be established.

In another chapter, law enforcement officers are directed on use of force, including providing clear guidance on use of force standards that meet or exceed the Department of Justice’s updated use-of-force policy; requiring the collection and reporting of use of force data; and banning carotid restraints unless deadly force is authorized. According to the press release, policy already bans chokeholds except where deadly force is authorized.

As for new no-knock entry policy, officers are restricted from no-knock entries except in instances where the agent’s announced presence would create an imminent threat of physical violence to the agent and/or another person; and required to seek judicial authorization for a no-knock warrant first to obtain approval from their first- and second-line supervisor, and an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the relevant U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.