Police Continue Chokehold Despite Concerns

Supposedly Banned, Chokehold Still Used by NYPD

In 1993, the New York Police Department publicly admonished its officers to refrain from using the popular “chokehold” to restrain suspects. However, in the aftermath of the death of Eric Garner, an unarmed black man in Staten Island, as the result of a chokehold, it’s clear that the tactic is still being taught and used on a regular basis. New police inspector general Philip K. Eure conducted an investigation of Garner’s death and of the use of chokehold tactics, and issued a report that indicated that police officers too often employed a chokehold when facing “mere verbal confrontation,” as video cameras show in the Garner case.

Authorities say that the chokehold is not necessarily an intended act in many attempted apprehensions, but the fact that it still happens on a pretty regular basis is often tied to the “unpredictable nature of struggles” with suspects. They say that there are a number of neck-based restraint techniques, all of which, when done correctly, don’t result in injury. In times of fear or perceived danger, officers may forget that certain tactics have been banned and “fall back on what works.”

In addition, though, claim critics, the increased prevalence of the chokehold stems from the relaxation by NYPD officials on enforcement and definition of what is prohibited. In internal investigations over the last few years, the review board has consistently asserted that the hold was not of the type banned unless actual choking occurred. Critics say that the result is that police officers are almost never punished for using the strategy, and other officers have come to understand that the review committee will generally look the other way.

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