• DC Police Complaints Board To Cops: ‘Don’t Put People In Chokeholds’

    Police in the nation’s capital are either not properly trained to obey laws governing the use of chokeholds on suspects, or they are not complying with those laws.

    According to a report released Monday by the The D.C. Office of Police Complaints, which is tasked with investigating complaints of police misconduct, police officers in the city are not properly trained to use the carotid artery hold choking technique.

    The carotid artery hold, known more commonly as a sleeper hold, cuts off blood flow to a person’s brain and can immobilize them. Officers, according to the report, are not being properly trained in this technique.

    “Even though MPD no longer teaches the use of carotid artery holds, it does not appear that officers are specifically instructed that pursuant to District law, the carotid artery holds can only be used under very limited circumstances, or that trachea holds are completely prohibited,” the report reads.

    Trachea holds, which pinch a person’s windpipe, are illegal in the district.

    The 1986 law governing the use of chokeholds by police demands that officers take a specific training course on the carotid artery hold before it is legal for the officer to use the technique.

    The report claims, however, that officers in the city are receiving insufficient training to legally use the hold and the guidelines used internally by the department do not distinguish between the two holds.

    The board recommended that MPD develop comprehensive training courses for future and current police officers. The MPD should also ensure that its neck restraint policies comply with city law.

    “No issue is more divisive for community relations than the perception that police use of force has been excessive or disproportionate,” Michael Tobin, OPC’s executive director, said in a statement.

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