BOISE — In response to concerns from the community, the Boise Police Department on Friday announced its officers will no longer use neck restraints as a use-of-force technique.
Until now, the department — like others in the valley — made use of a neck restraint called a “lateral vascular neck restraint,” which is commonly used in certain martial arts. It is not a “chokehold” in that, when applied correctly, it doesn’t restrict a person’s airway. There have never been any cases in which such a restraint used by a Boise police officer resulted in death or serious injury, according to a Friday news release from the department.
Despite that, and “based on a number of factors, including community input” the department has “decided to discontinue its use (of the restraint) at this time,” according to the release.
“This moratorium will allow BPD to explore options, retrain as necessary, and update our policy,” according to the release.
The decision to suspend the technique comes about a month after the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for almost 9 minutes. Video of the incident sparked massive public outcry, inspired protests and riots, and has led to a national conversation about reforming police and public safety. While kneeling on the neck of another person is very different from the type of neck restraint the Boise Police Department authorized, some activists have called for the banning of neck restraints altogether. The push was among the list of demands that are part of the 8 Can’t Wait campaign, and includes eight policies activists feel every police department should institute. Earlier this month, Acting Police Chief Ron Winegar told the Boise City Council the department already complied with the reforms the campaign sought.
The neck restraint factors into a lawsuit a former Boise police officer filed against the department in April, after she claimed a training officer used the technique on a trainee in 2019.
“The Boise Police Department is committed to reviewing our policies regularly and will provide updates on any additional changes related to use of force,” the release said. “We will also continue to have meaningful conversations with our community and work toward a better future together.”