By Evan Perez, Whitney Wild and Kaitlan Collins, CNN
(CNN) — The Justice Department will require its agents and law enforcement officers to intervene and render aid if they see another officer use excessive force against a detainee — a policy change in tandem with a series of police reform measures that the Biden administration plans to announce in the coming days.
President Joe Biden’s push for sweeping police reforms through legislation, blocked by Republican opposition in Congress, instead will take shape in a more limited executive order set to be announced as soon as Wednesday, the anniversary of the police killing of George Floyd, according to people briefed on the matter.
The Biden order, first reported by The Washington Post, is expected to build on reforms that banned chokeholds and restricted no-knock warrants by extending those rules that currently apply to the Justice Department to other federal law enforcement agencies. The Justice Department also has expanded the use of body-worn cameras.
The Biden order also is expected to encourage local and state law enforcement to meet minimum training and state certification standards, the people who have been briefed said.
The Justice Department’s use-of-force policy change, the first since 2004, is contained in a memo issued Friday by the attorney general. The President’s executive order also is expected to expand this policy to other federal law enforcement agencies outside the Justice Department, the people briefed said.
The new policy issued to Justice Department agencies — including the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, US Marshals Service and FBI — takes effect in July.
“Officers will be trained in, and must recognize and act upon, the affirmative duty to intervene to prevent or stop, as appropriate, any officer from engaging in excessive force or any other use of force that violates the Constitution, other federal laws, or Department policies on the reasonable use of force,” the new policy reads.
It also says officers have a duty to render aid in these cases.
“It is the policy of the Department of Justice to value and preserve human life,” the policy reads. “Officers may use force only when no reasonably effective, safe, and feasible alternative appears to exist and may use only the level of force that a reasonable officer on the scene would use under the same or similar circumstances.”
Derrick Johnson, the president of the NAACP, applauded the upcoming executive order.
“Tomorrow will mark two years since George Floyd’s cruel murder at the hands of police officers,” Johnson said in a statement. “We know full well that an executive order cannot address America’s policing crisis the same way Congress has the ability to, but we’ve got to do everything we can. There’s no better way to honor George Floyd’s legacy than for President Biden to take action by signing a police reform executive order.”
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