Police advocates say the Department of Justice's bans on chokeholds and no-knock warrants 'pander to anti-police narrative' and are sapping morale
Police advocates say the Department of Justice’s bans on chokeholds and no-knock warrants ‘pander to anti-police narrative’ and are sapping morale among law enforcement officers.
The National Police Association urged the DOJ to reconsider its bans, which were announced on Tuesday, and told Fox News that it ‘hamstrings’ officers’ legal actions to arrest violent offenders.
The chokehold ban didn’t surprise Bill Johnson – executive direction of the National Association of Police Organizations, which represents more than 241,000 officers across the country – or Jason Johnson, executive director of the Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund.
‘It’s about perception versus reality, and the reality is a chokehold is rarely used,’ Jason Johnson told DailyMail.com.
Of the U.S.’s 100 largest police departments, 71 now prohibit chokeholds – up from 28 before the death of George Floyd – according to the Police Use of Force Project, which has reviewed use of force policies.
At least 17 states ban chokeholds, up from two since Floyd was murdered.
‘It’s really not a tool in an officer’s arsenal,’ Jason Johnson told DailyMail.com.
The real issue both Bill Johnson and Jason Johnson (unrelated) told DailyMail.com is the ban on no-knock warrants because it sets up a potential confrontation with police and gives suspects a chance to destroy evidence.
‘The no-knock warrant ban has great potential to cause harm,’ Jason Johnson told DailyMail.com.
Bill Johnson (pictured), executive director of the National Association of Police Organizations, which represents over 241,000 officers, told DailyMail.com that the ban on no-knock warrants hurts police’s ability to collect evidence
Protesters have been vociferously demanding a ban on chokeholds since the death of George Floyd
‘When there is reason to believe a suspect is armed, it’s better to catch them off guard and avoid confrontation,’ he said. ‘If there’s no confrontation, it’s safer for everyone. If you take that way, you’re increasing the risk for officers and everyone involved.’
Bill Johnson said there’s also the issue of destroying contraband and evidence.
‘Politically, there is a lot of pressure after the death of civilians,’ Bill Johnson told DailyMail.com. ‘I understand the concern, but this went too far and now legitimate law enforcement operations could be hampered.
‘You can be at the front door and say, “This is special agent so and so. We have a warrant to search the premise, and then you hear stuff (from inside) like, “Get rid of it.”
‘It’s not good enough to enter. You have to wait at the door. You’ve kind of lost the tactical advantage of the warrant.’
Bill Johnson told DailyMail.com that ‘there’s been a lot of political pressure, particularly from Democrats but also some Republicans to do away with restraints around the neck area.
‘This was the (Biden) Administration’s way of quote unquote fixing policing,’ Jason Johnson told DailyMail.com.
When asked if he thought the DOJ no-knock warrant ban would be amended, he said he doesn’t know and said his group, which supports and defends police and law enforcement professionals, have never gotten a seat at the table.
Democrats have been pressuring Biden and his administration to make police reforms, Bill Johnson said without naming who.
At first, he said, some Democrats tried to outright ban the restraint, but there are life-threatening situations where an officer needs to do whatever it takes to subdue a violent suspect, he said.
He used the example of a situation where an officer is disarmed or severely beaten or shot.
‘At that point, it’s no holds barred,’ Johnson said.
Tuesday’s DOJ announcement of the bans comes in response to the intense political pressure following the murder of George Floyd and the social unrest that gripped the U.S. over the last year and a half.
While situations have largely calmed down in recent months, political pressures – particularly from some members of the left – ‘are creating an us versus them mentality, and that’s not what we want,’ Bill Johnson said.
Attorney General Merrick Garland said ‘no-knock’ entries would only be allowed in situations ‘where an agent has reasonable grounds to believe that knocking and announcing the agent’s presence would create an imminent threat of physical violence to the agent and/or another person’
‘It’s not everyone, but it’s in a lot of places,’ Bill Johnson said, which is killing morale among the rank and file.
‘The physical risk was always there,’ Johnson told Dailymail.com, ‘but now if the officer makes an honest mistake or a cell phone video catches the last 10 seconds of a situation, the officer is hung out to dry.
‘There’s a threat to careers, personal reputation and now their freedoms. Anecdotally, it’s been more difficult to retain officers who don’t want to risk all this,’ he told DailyMail.com
National Police Association spokesperson Sgt. Betsy Brantner Smith – a separate entity from Johnson’s group – told Fox News that the NPA is dedicated to improving police tactics.
But she said, ‘controlling violent criminals is a much more positive step than further hamstringing the legal actions of local law enforcement officers in order to pander to an anti-police narrative.
‘Treating the police as though they, not the criminals, are somehow the problem, is neither accurate nor realistic, and we encourage the DOJ to reconsider.’
DailyMail.com left messages with the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, the International Association of Chiefs of Police and the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center.
National Police Association urged the Department of Justice to reconsider its ban on chokeholds and no-knock warrants and said this ‘hamstrings’ officers’ legal actions to arrest violent offenders ‘to pander to an anti-police narrative’
Tuesday’s bans come after more than a year of police brutality protests and calls for police reform that intensified after George Floyd was killed when Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck and Breonna Taylor was fatally shot by police in Louisville while executing a no-knock warrant on the wrong house.
The restrictions apply to federal agents who work under the DOJ and local police departments who work with the DOJ through a joint task force.
Former President Donald Trump signed an executive order requiring police departments to ban chokeholds to receive certification that allows them to access federal grants.
Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill have both touted police reform measures but remain at an impasse.
House Democrats’ George Floyd Justice in Policing Act would explicitly ban chokeholds and end qualified immunity for officers.
Senate Republicans’ JUSTICE Act focuses on transparency and training, encouraging choke hold bans but not enforcing them.