POLICE Magazine

MAR 2019

Magazine for police and law enforcement

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36 P O L I C E M A R C H 2 019 A s a result of the death of Eric Garner in 2014 during an encounter with police officers, and the scrutiny that ensued, there has been significant controversy over police officers using chokeholds when attempting to detain suspects. After unlawfully selling cigarettes, Garner, an African-American man, died in Staten Island during an attempted arrest by New York City po- lice officers on July 17, 2014. Video footage of the arrest showed the arm of Officer Daniel Pantaleo on Garner's neck prior to the latter's death, which occurred during the scuffle. On December 3 of that same year, a grand jury elected not to indict Pantaleo, and af- ter investigation, the FBI agreed with this decision. e decision not to indict Panta- leo raised great public outrage and prompted demonstrations across the United States, especially in the African-American community. is put a lot of pressure on legislators to "do something" to remedy what many believed was the murder of an African-American man by a po- lice officer. State and federal legis- lators began to introduce and enact state and federal laws specific to the use of chokeholds by police officers. Previously, something as specific as a chokehold or neck restraint would be regulated through departmental policy and procedures, and the prop- er use of these techniques would be supported through rigorous training. However, agencies and officers are now afraid to put an arm around the neck of an active resister or aggressive assailant, and using such a technique is reserved for deadly force situations alone. As a result, it is important to define the term "chokehold" more precisely, in order to comprehend that it is a broad term that refers to a variety of actions. Only then can we define the use, benefits, and dangers of the chokehold. ere is much confusion sur- rounding what exactly a chokehold entails, in part because of its expan- sive meaning, and as such I can un- derstand the lack of comprehension to a certain extent. ere are so many terms used to convey the act of grabbing someone around the neck, and multiple meth- ods involved in the performance of this maneuver. Terms from both martial arts and police practice include: rear naked choke, wind choke, air choke, tracheal choke, true choke, push choke, choke hold, vascular neck restraint, lateral vascular neck re- straint, blood choke, bilateral carot- id compression, strangle hold, and sleeper hold. As police officers, we have all encountered some if not all of these terms, and too many peo- ple, especially civilians, lump them all into one category: the chokehold. To try to simplif y things, I will break this down into two categories, using the terms "air choke" and "blood choke." e two are very different, and while the blood choke is rela- tively safe, the air choke is consider- ably more dangerous. AIR CHOKE e air choke is performed when an officer's forearm places pressure on the front of an assailant's neck/ throat area, and it is also known as the tracheal choke, true choke, wind choke, and push choke. e purpose of the choke is to restrict air to the ar- restee, and as such if the procedure is applied for a certain length of time, death can ensue. Another risk is that this choke can inflict damage on the upper airway, including the trachea, larynx, and hyoid bone, which can also result in the death of the assail- ant. In Tennessee v. Garner the U.S. Supreme Court held that under the Fourth Amendment, police officers The air choke cuts off the subject's air supply. It can be dangerous and shouldn't be used un- less deadly force is justified. PHOTOS: MICHAEL SCHLOSSER UNLOCKING THE CONFUSION AROUND CHOKEHOLDS CHOKEHOLDS ARE SOME OF THE MOST CONTROVERSIAL AND EFFECTIVE TECHNIQUES THAT OFFICERS CAN USE TO END ATTACKS. H MICHAEL SCHLOSSER THE WINNING EDGE

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