Interior Department Announces New Law Enforcement Policies to Advance Transparent and Accountable Policing Practices

Interior Department

The Department of the Interior today announced a series of new policies that will help advance safe, transparent, accountable and effective policing practices; build public trust; and strengthen public safety. The new policies provide clear guidelines on use of force standards, require law enforcement officers to wear body-worn cameras and restrict the use of no-knock warrants. These policy updates are part of the Department’s continuing implementation of President Biden’s May 2022 Executive Order to Advance Effective, Accountable Policing and Strengthen Public Safety.

Secretary Deb Haaland established a Departmental Law Enforcement Task Force last year to implement the highest standards for protecting and building trust with the public and provide necessary policy guidance, resources, and training to agency personnel. The Task Force is led by Deputy Secretary Tommy Beaudreau and is comprised of law enforcement representatives from the Department’s law enforcement bureaus and the Office of Law Enforcement and Security.

“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. 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,” said Deputy Secretary Beaudreau.

A new chapter within the agency’s Departmental Manual updates the policy on body-worn cameras, and includes:

  • Requiring all Interior law enforcement officers actively patrolling and engaging with the public to carry body-worn cameras
  • Setting the minimum requirements for downloading, documentation and storage of video footage
  • Outlining the intent to expedite public release of video footage by the Department following incidents involving serious bodily injury or death
  • Providing minimum training standards for initial and annual follow-up training consistent with industry standards

A second chapter updates the policy on the use of force, further building off of the Department’s updated Use of Force Policy finalized in 2021, 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
  • Banning carotid restraints unless deadly force is authorized (Department policy already bans chokeholds except where deadly force is authorized)

The Department also established a new no-knock entry policy. The new policy includes:

  • Restricting no-knock entries to instances where the agent’s announced presence would create an imminent threat of physical violence to the agent and/or another person
  • Requiring that agents seeking judicial authorization for a no-knock warrant first obtain approval from their first- and second-line supervisor, and an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the relevant U.S. Attorney’s Office

Law enforcement agents in the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Park Service are charged with protecting the nation’s most cherished resources, their visitors, Tribal communities, and global biodiversity. The legitimacy of this mission is founded in the ability to ensure public trust through transparency and accountability.

Earlier this year, the Department’s Law Enforcement Task Force completed a series of 12 listening sessions and received public comment on ways to strengthen public trust and confidence in the Department’s law enforcement programs, ensure appropriate policy and oversight is implemented, and assure supportive resources are available for officer mental health, wellness and safety. Today’s announcement reflects the input that has been received. The Department will continue incorporating public comment as it implements its work to strengthen and modernize the workforce.

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