PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, a Democrat from Oregon, is applauding updates made to the Department of Homeland Security’s use of force policy that clarify when it’s appropriate for federal law enforcement to use deadly force and adjust how the department reports use-of-force data.
Wyden tweeted saying he pressed for these changes and sees them as “a small but positive step toward preventing a repeat of Donald Trump’s unilateral deployment of federal law enforcement to U.S. cities when he was in the White House.”
In October 2020, Portland sued the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Justice Department and accused the agencies of overstepping constitutional limits in their use of federal law enforcement officers during the racial justice protests of 2020.
Former President Trump’s administration sent dozens of U.S. agents to Portland in July 2020 to guard the federal courthouse, which protesters had been targeting.
The federal agents’ work was supposed to be limited to federal property, but those agents clashed with protesters blocks from the courthouse on several occasions. They were also accused of picking up protesters in unmarked cars and removing them from the area without identifying themselves.
Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas announced the use of force policy changes Tuesday. The changes were required by President Joe Biden’s Executive Order to Advance Effective, Accountable Policing and Strengthen Public Safety.
The update includes clear use-of-force standards. DHS officers are now forbidden from using deadly force against a person whose actions are only a threat to themself or property. They are also not allowed to use chokeholds or carotid restraints unless the situation qualifies for using deadly force.
The new policy updates how DHS is required to collect and report use-of-force data and places limits on the use of no-knock entries.
It provides wellness resources for law enforcement officers who use force on the job and makes changes to law enforcement training in areas including the use of force, de-escalation techniques, the duty to intervene, and implicit bias and profiling.
“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,” Mayorkas said Tuesday.
DHS said the policy was crafted through discussions with stakeholders across the department as well as major national labor organizations to ensure the safety of law enforcement personnel and community members.
This is the first update to DHS’ use of force policy since 2018.
Wyden said he’ll continue pressing to make sure DHS’ Law Enforcement Coordination Council, which wrote the policy, stays at it “so no president can again flagrantly abuse the commander-in-chief power domestically in Oregon or anywhere else in America.