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Tuesday, March 28, 2023

DHS Updates Department-Wide Use of Force Policy

Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas has today announced updates to the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Use of Force Policy as required by President Biden’s Executive Order to Advance Effective, Accountable Policing and Strengthen Public Safety to meet or exceed the Department of Justice guidance on use of force. 

DHS encompasses nine operational law enforcement agencies with more than 80,000 law enforcement officers across the country. The policy was crafted as a result of discussions with stakeholders across the Department as well as major national labor organizations to ensure the safety of law enforcement personnel and the communities DHS serves. This is the first update of the Department’s Use of Force policies since 2018.

“Our ability to secure the homeland rests on public trust, which is built by accountability, transparency, and effectiveness in our law enforcement practices. Today’s policy announcement is designed to advance those essential values,” said Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas. “At the beginning of the Biden-Harris Administration, I announced the first Law Enforcement Coordination Council at DHS, designed to improve the ways we listen to and support our law enforcement agents and officers, the largest force in the federal government. Through the Council, law enforcement leaders from across the Department carefully crafted these updates to ensure we are living up to our values. Law enforcement agents and officers have profound responsibilities in their noble profession. We are grateful for the sacrifices they make every day and are confident that, working together, we can build safer and fairer processes to enforce our laws.”

 This update includes:

  • Clear use of force standards including prohibitions on the use of deadly force against a person whose actions are only a threat to themselves or property,
  • Updated requirements to collect and report use of force data,
  • Prohibitions on the use of chokeholds and carotid restraints unless deadly force is otherwise authorized,
  • Limitations on the use of no-knock entries,
  • Provision of wellness resources for law enforcement officers involved in use of force incidents, and
  • Changes to law enforcement training in key areas including deadly force, less than lethal force, de-escalation techniques, the duty to intervene, and implicit bias and profiling.

DHS offices and agencies will draft and issue their updated individual Use of Force Policies that meet or exceed the requirements set forth in the updated Department-wide policy.

Launched on September 29, 2021, the Department’s Law Enforcement Coordination Council (LECC) crafted this policy with the input of stakeholders across the Department. This included subject matter experts from both the operational law enforcement agencies and DHS headquarters offices such as the Offices of Strategy, Policy, and Plans; Civil Rights and Civil Liberties; General Counsel; and Privacy. The new updates meet or exceed the Department of Justice’s standards set on May 20, 2022.

Read the full memo at DHS

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The Government Technology & Services Coalition's Homeland Security Today (HSToday) is the premier news and information resource for the homeland security community, dedicated to elevating the discussions and insights that can support a safe and secure nation. A non-profit magazine and media platform, HSToday provides readers with the whole story, placing facts and comments in context to inform debate and drive realistic solutions to some of the nation’s most vexing security challenges.

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