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As SDPD Stops Using Carotid Restraint, San Diego Sheriff Bill Gore Opposes Banning It

San Diego County Sheriff William D. Gore at the Sheriff's Department headquar...

Photo by Nicholas McVicker

Above: San Diego County Sheriff William D. Gore at the Sheriff's Department headquarters in Kearny Mesa on Friday, Feb. 21, 2020.

When police officers are dealing with someone who’s resisting arrest, they have a variety of methods they can use, short of lethal force, to get control over that person.

One of those methods they’ve used for years is called the "carotid restraint." When done correctly, an officer compresses a person’s carotid arteries which are on either side of the neck, causing a person to lose consciousness.

Last Friday, the Racial Justice Coalition San Diego renewed its call for an end to the carotid hold. Coalition spokesman Yusef Miller said, "We’re warning and encouraging the city to take us seriously when it comes to banning all neck restraints in San Diego.”

The coalition has been calling for a ban on the carotid hold since 2017, following the death of Eric Garner at the hands of police in New York City.

On Monday, Mayor Kevin Faulconer and San Diego police Chief David Nisleit announced that the San Diego Police Department would immediately stop using the hold.

“You have to look at big picture and you have to look at one of the things that I’m trying to do is that layer of protection again is try to reduce those encounters, those volatile, violent encounters and that’s what my decision is today," Nisleit told KPBS media partner 10News.

But San Diego Sheriff Bill Gore said he's opposed to the city's decision. Gore said deputies in his department have used the carotid restraint dozens of times over the last several years with no major injuries. He said banning its use is a bad idea.

“I’m reluctant to take that technique away from my deputies and force them into maybe a more, a higher use of force which will cause lasting damage to the suspect we’re taking into custody," Gore said.

Nisleit also faces opposition from some in the rank and file.

Detective Jack Schaeffer, who heads up the San Diego Police Officers Association, said he’s used the carotid hold and he’s seen his fellow officers use it for years with no major injuries. But Schaeffer also said the SDPOA supports the chief and he said that San Diego officers will adapt.

“We’re gonna support our officers and I know that our officers are gonna be able to figure out a way to still diffuse situations by using other techniques," Schaeffer said.

The change in policy was met with praise from the local NAACP, along with most members of the San Diego City Council.

Listen to this story by John Carroll.

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John Carroll
General Assignment Reporter & Anchor

opening quote marksclosing quote marksI'm a general assignment reporter and Saturday morning radio anchor for KPBS. I love coming up with story ideas that aren't being covered elsewhere, but I'm also ready to cover the breaking news of the day. In addition, I bring you the local news headlines on Saturday mornings during NPR's Weekend Edition.

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