Neck restraints, or neck holds, refer to the practice of officers using their arm or leg to restrain someone’s neck. The technique has been a subject of controversy for years, particularly following the death of Eric Garner in 2014 after a police officer was accused of choking him.
The term “chokehold” is often used in mainstream discourse to refer to any neck hold, but police generally categorize neck restraints in two ways: the stranglehold and the chokehold. Strangeholds – also called carotid restraints, sleeper holds or blood chokes – temporarily cut off blood flow to the brain and are meant to render a subject unconscious for a time. Chokeholds – also called airway holds – restrict breathing by applying pressure to the windpipe.
Law enforcement officers say the techniques are used to gain control of aggressive or resisting subjects. Some departments state that they should only be employed as a last resort, when the officer believes the subject poses a threat to their or others’ lives. But as the cases of Floyd, Garner and others have shown, neck restraints have the potential to go badly wrong – sometimes resulting in death.
Here are some of the cities, states and countries that are banning police neck restraints.
The French government announced on Monday that police will no longer be able to use chokeholds when arresting people.
Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said the use of chokeholds – which he described as applying pressure on an individual’s neck or throat while holding them on the ground – was a “dangerous method” and will no longer be taught in police training.
“I hear the criticism, I hear a powerful cry against hatred,” said Castaner, referring to large Black Lives Matter protests that took place in several major French cities last week. He added “racism has no place in our society, not in our Republic.”
The move came after more than 23,000 protesters took the streets on Saturday to call for an end to police violence, according to Interior Ministry figures released Sunday.
An executive order now prohibits Connecticut State Police from using chokeholds, Gov. Ned Lamont announced Monday.
The order requires the state’s Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection to update a state police manual to require troopers to, when possible, deescalate situations, provide a verbal warning and exhaust “all other reasonable alternatives” before resorting to deadly force.
Troopers will also be required to intervene to stop and report another officer’s excessive force.
Gov. Gavin Newsom directed police departments last week to stop training officers to use carotid holds, calling the technique “a strangle hold that puts people’s lives at risk.”
Carotid restraints are performed by compressing the sides of the neck to restrict blood flow to the brain and render a person unconscious.
Newsom’s directive came after the San Diego Police Department and the Sacramento Police Department announced they would stop using the restraint, effective immediately.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD) followed on Monday by issuing an immediate moratorium on the use of carotid restraints in situations that “do not rise to the level of deadly force,” the department said.
The department’s use of force policy also prohibits personnel from using chokeholds, strangleholds and carotid restraints performed with legs, knees or feet, according to a news release.
Reevaluating practices at schools, the Los Angeles Unified School District will eliminate the policy allowing carotid holds and the use of pepper spray, Superintendent Austin Beutner announced Monday.
The Broward County Sheriff’s Office said it will not use chokeholds to restrain or secure any person except in situations where deadly force is justified.
And in Miami, police officers are prohibited from utilizing the LVNR (lateral vascular neck restraint) chokehold, neck hold any any other restraint that restricts free movement of the neck or heard or restricts an individual’s ability to breathe.
New York state
Lawmakers passed legislation on Monday banning the use of chokeholds by officers.
Known as the Eric Garner Anti-Chokehold Act, the bill would create a new crime of aggravated strangulation, punishable by up to 15 years in prison.
“This offense would occur when a police or peace officer, using a chokehold or similar restraint, applies pressure to the throat or windpipe of a person, hindering breathing or the intake of air, and causes serious physical injury or death,” a news release from the New York State Assembly stated.
The New York Police Department banned the use of chokeholds by officers in 1993. But there has long been confusion over what constitutes a chokehold, and the policy has not always been enforced, according to the New York City Civilian Complaint Review Board.
Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee says he wants police across the state to restrict the use of chokeholds in restraining suspects, following the widespread protests that came after Floyd’s death.
“We need to rethink the use of police force, and look more broadly at police tactics,” Inslee said during a news conference Monday.
The governor said the Washington State Patrol already tightly regulates the use of chokeholds that restrict a person’s airflow, with limited exceptions when an officer’s life is in danger, and he wants all law enforcement agencies to adopt similar rules.
“Possibly there are things where life itself is in danger… but police are going to have to convince us that that’s the situation,” he added.
Austin Police Chief Brian Manley announced a series of measures Thursday after discussions with local organization JUST America.
Though the department never taught or approved chokeholds, Manley said, their ban will be written into policy. The department also discussed high sanctions for officers intentionally disabling body worn cameras during “critical incidents” and having the mayor and city council involved in policy changes, Manley said.
In February, the Chicago Police Department announced that “carotid artery restraints,” chokeholds and “any other maneuvers for applying direct pressure on a windpipe or airway would be classifies as a deadly force technique.
Police directives state officers are not allowed to use chokeholds or similar maneuvers that put pressure on a person’s airway as a takedown technique “unless the use of deadly force is authorized.”
The Denver Police Department announced Sunday it was banning chokeholds and carotid compressions “with no exceptions,” according to a news release.
The department annou