Vallejo Police Dept bans carotid control hold, “focuses on assessment and reform”

Vallejo police chief bans officers from using carotid hold

Vallejo Times-Herald, by John Glidden, June 18, 2020 

Vallejo police Chief Shawny Williams issued a special order banning his officers from using a controversial restraint as the department begins to flesh out its use of force and de-escalation police, the department announced Thursday.

Officers can no longer apply a carotid control hold, also known as a vascular neck constraint, while attempting to subdue aggressive or resistant individuals.

“This immediate ban of the carotid control hold is the right thing to do as our department focuses on assessment and reform,” said Williams in a statement released by the department on Thursday. “I also think it’s important for the Vallejo community to know that the carotid control hold is not a stranglehold or a chokehold; those types of holds were never authorized by VPD and do not reflect our values as a department.”

Vallejo Mayor Bob Sampayan took to social media after the news release was issued to register his approval with the decision, saying if the hold isn’t “done correctly (it) could injure a person.”

“This restraint has no place in policing,” he said.

Vallejo’s ban comes two weeks after Gov. Gavin Newsom told the California Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) to stop teaching the restraint as the hold blocks the flow of blood to the brain.

“We train techniques on strangleholds that put people’s lives at risk,” Newsom said. “That has no place any longer in 21st-century practices and policing.”

The hold requires an officer to place his/her arm on the sides of the person’s neck. As the officer begins to apply pressure, blood flow is blocked in the carotid arteries, causing the person to lose consciousness. Applied too long, the hold can cause serious injury or death.

Williams’ announcement follows the unveiling of a new proposed implementation plan based off a 70-page report by the OIR Group which analyzed the operations, culture and internal review of the department. The consultant made 45 recommendations which focus on three major areas: protecting the community, build trust and communication, and 21st century policing.

Retained last summer, OIR Group received $40,000 to review the department’s officer training, hiring, promotional processes, transparency, community engagement, resource assessment, and internal review of deadly force incidents.