12 FAM 090


(CT:DS-348;   02-22-2021)
(Office of Origin:  DS/DO)


(CT:DS-348;   02-22-2021)

a. Less-than-lethal (LTL) force is force that is reasonably expected not to result in death or serious physical injury and includes the use of LTL items.  The degree of danger or threat that justifies the use of LTL force is less than the imminent threat of death or serious physical injury that would justify the use of deadly force.  See 12 FAM 092 for Department of State Deadly Force and Firearms Policy.  DS/MGT/FOIA-PA serves as the bureau records liaison, as directed by the Department, and is responsible for coordinating security records management activities with the Bureau of Administration’s Office of Information Programs and Services (A/GIS/IPS).

b. A reasonable use of LTL force is one that, based on the totality of the circumstances at the time, reasonably appears necessary to accomplish an authorized purpose.

c.  LTL force is deployed to limit, disperse, or address a threatening situation.  LTL force deployed by the Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS) is intended to incapacitate, immobilize or stun individuals, or to delay, confuse, or dissuade them from taking actions that could constitute a danger to DS personnel, other persons, or protected facilities.

d. For the purposes of 12 FAM 091 and 12 FAM 093, the term “DS personnel” includes the following personnel, when engaged in the performance of security services or law enforcement functions:

(1)  Department direct hires assigned to the Bureau of Diplomatic Security; and

(2)  Personal services contractors and non-personal services contract personnel, including contracted Domestic Guard and Local Guard Force personnel, and Locally Employed Staff as defined in 3 FAM 7121, regardless of the hiring mechanism, that are engaged in security services on behalf of DS.


(CT:DS-348;   02-22-2021)

a. DS personnel are authorized to use only those LTL items that are approved for use by the Department and that they are trained to use.

b. Abroad, authorization to use LTL items must be obtained in a manner consistent with the post's Mission Firearms Policy (MFP); when feasible, authorization should be obtained in advance.  If a delay in seeking authorization would further endanger DS personnel, other individuals or protected facilities, LTL items may be used in accordance with the guidelines below without advance authorization.

12 FAM 091.2  WARNINGS

(CT:DS-348;   02-22-2021)

a. When feasible, verbal or other warnings should precede the use of LTL; however, such preliminary warnings need not be given where there is a reasonable belief that a resort to warnings could create additional risk or that warnings would be ineffective.

b. The guidance contained in this section does not apply to warning shots, which are addressed in 12 FAM 092.


(CT:DS-348;   02-22-2021)

The deployment and use of LTL items is subject to review by the Special Protective Equipment Review Board and approval by the director of the Diplomatic Security Service on an item-by-item and site-by-site basis; both domestically and overseas.


(CT:DS-348;   02-22-2021)

a. The use of LTL items is appropriate only when DS personnel reasonably believe that voice commands or physical control would not achieve the authorized purpose.

b. DS personnel who employ LTL items must, to the extent feasible, minimize the possibility of harm to bystanders.  They should also consider how the use of such items could affect bystanders and facilities in the immediate area

12 FAM 092  Department of state deadly force AND FIREARMS policy

(CT:DS-348;   02-22-2021)


Deadly Force Policy

A special agent of the Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) may use deadly force only when necessary, that is, when the special agent has a reasonable belief that the subject of such force poses an imminent danger of death or serious physical injury to the special agent or to another person.

Deadly force may not be used solely to prevent the escape of a fleeing suspect.

Firearms may not be fired solely to disable moving vehicles, vessels, or other conveyances.

If feasible and if to do so would not increase the danger to the officer or others, a verbal warning to submit to the authority of the special agent shall be given prior to the use of deadly force.

Warning shots are not permitted, except that they may be used by DSS special agents in exercising DSS’s protective responsibilities.

Special agents will be trained in alternative methods and tactics for handling resisting subjects, which must be used when the use of deadly force is not authorized by this policy.


Authority to Carry Firearms

Section 2709 of Title 22, United States Code, authorizes special agents of the U.S. Department of State to carry and use firearms in the performance of their duties, consistent with these regulations.

General Policy

Authorization to Carry Firearms

A DSS special agent stationed in the United States, who is not otherwise in any way legally disqualified from carrying a firearm, is authorized to carry approved firearms on and off duty in accordance with this policy.  A DSS special agent is required to report to DS any condition that he or she has reason to believe disqualifies him or her from lawfully carrying a firearm.

A DSS special agent stationed outside the United States, who is not otherwise in any way legally disqualified from carrying a firearm under the laws of the United States, may carry his or her firearms abroad with written approval by the chief of mission consistent with applicable statutory authority.

Each DSS special agent is responsible for having a complete understanding of his or her authority and its limitations, and of these regulations.

All issues relating to these regulations that require clarification shall be directed to the DS Special Protective Equipment Review Board (SPERB). 

Authorized Firearms and Related Equipment

In General

DSS will authorize special agents to carry handguns, holsters, support weapons (including submachine guns, shotguns, and specialized firearms) and ammunition that the Department of State, through the SPERB, has issued or approved.

Off-duty and Secondary Weapons

While off duty in the United States, a DSS special agent may be authorized to carry his or her service weapon.  This provision does not preclude the off-duty carriage of other firearms, subject to all applicable federal, state, and local laws, in the agent’s capacity as a private citizen or qualified law enforcement officer.

While on duty in the United States, a DSS special agent may be authorized to carry one secondary handgun in addition to his or her service weapon.  The secondary handgun must come from a list of DSS-approved handguns.

The off-duty carriage of a service weapon or on-duty carriage of a secondary handgun is permissible only if the special agent comports with all DSS standards, including required periodic qualification with the weapon.

No secondary handgun is authorized unless there is written documentation on file with DSS fully identifying the weapon and the date when such carriage was first authorized.

A special agent may be authorized to have only one DSS-approved secondary handgun in addition to his or her service weapon.


In General

To be authorized to carry a DSS-issued firearm or DSS-approved secondary firearm, a DSS special agent shall qualify by meeting or exceeding a specified score on the DS qualification course with his or her DSS-issued or DSS-approved firearm.  This provision does not authorize a DSS special agent to carry a firearm on which he or she has not successfully completed required firearms qualification or familiarization procedures within the past 12 months.


Disclaimer:  This policy is set forth solely for the purpose of internal Department guidance.  It is not intended to, does not, and may not be relied upon to create any rights, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law by any party in any matter, civil or criminal, and does not place any limitations on otherwise lawful activities of the Department.


Rule of construction: Nothing contained in this policy shall be construed to limit or impair the authority or responsibility of any other Federal law enforcement or other agency of the United States with respect to investigative, protective, or intelligence activities.


(CT:DS-348;   02-22-2021)

a. All uses of deadly force and/or less-than-lethal force listed below must be reported.  Specifically, DS personnel, as well as Marine security guard (MSG) and MSG Security Augmentation Unit (MSAU) personnel at post, who use:

(1)  Deadly force;

(2)  A LTL item; or

(3)  Physical force to gain control over a noncompliant subject.

b. Must immediately notify their supervisor or the agent-in-charge (AIC) or at post, the regional security officer (RSO):

(1)  If these individuals are unavailable, a report must be made to the most senior security official on duty;

(2)  If the incident occurs domestically and involves the supervisor or AIC, the report must be made to the Diplomatic Security Command Center (DS/TIA/CC); and

(3)  If the incident occurs at post and involves the RSO, the report must be made to the chief of mission (COM) or deputy chief of mission.

c.  Any incident reportable under paragraph 1 of this exhibit (hereinafter, a “reportable use of force”) must also be made to the Office of Special Investigations (DS/DO/OSI).  DS/DO/OSI conducts use of force investigations per 1 FAM 262.4-5(3).

d. Any reportable use of force by DS MSG or MSAU personnel, DS office directors and RSOs requires a notification to DS headquarters via a spot report to the DS/TIA/CC within 24 hours of the incident.  The spot report will only include the following information: “On (date) at (time), (office/Post), was involved in a (use of force) involving (an injury/no injury).  DS/DO/OSI was notified.  All inquiries should be addressed to DS/DO/OSI.”

e. DS personnel and MSG and MSAU personnel at post using reportable LTL force must fill out the Use of Force form DS-7778 within 24 hours and send it to DS/DO/OSI (This form should not be used when reporting the use of deadly force).

f.  RSOs, DS supervisors, and AICs are responsible for ensuring public safety and the safety of personnel under COM authority at post following any use of force.  To do so, they may obtain basic information, but only information that is necessary to ensure safety, such as information about the direction of a firearm discharge, the location and description of an injured person, suspect, victim, or evidence, etc.  RSOs are to refrain from otherwise interviewing persons under COM authority or engaging in a fact-finding mission other than as necessary for safety or security without the prior approval of DS/DO/OSI.  Domestically, DS supervisors and AICs are to refrain from conducting interviews or engaging in a fact-finding effort other than as necessary for safety or security without the prior approval of DS/DO/OSI.

g. As set forth in 3 FAM 4139.12, "Employee Representative," a DS employee must be advised of the right to have his or her own representative present at any meeting when the DS employee is asked by authorized officials to provide information regarding his or her or involvement in any use of force (deadly or LTL).  This requirement applies to any such request, even one involving less than a reportable use of LTL force.

h. Personnel of other United States government law enforcement agencies under COM authority, and employees or contract personnel of the Department of State engaged in narcotics-related activities whether under COM authority or not, are required to report any use of force incidents, including use of force in self-defense, to the RSO.  RSO must report any reportable use of force at Post by personnel of other law enforcement agencies under COM authority to DS/DO/OSI.  DS/DO/OSI will coordinate any investigations into such use of force with that agency’s appropriate investigative office.