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Sheriff Gore Discards ‘Sleeper Hold’ Amid Police Use-of-Force Protests

San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore is shown talking with visitors at the Coun...

Photo by Angela Carone

Above: San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore is shown talking with visitors at the County Administration building in downtown San Diego on Jan. 5, 2015.

Five San Diego-area law enforcement agencies announced Wednesday that they were halting their use of the so-called carotid restraint, a much-maligned compliance technique that renders uncooperative detainees unconscious but can prove deadly if performed improperly.

In a posting on Twitter, county Sheriff Bill Gore stated that he was taking the step "in light of community concerns and after consultation with many elected officials throughout the county."

The police departments in Coronado, La Mesa, National City and Oceanside announced the same policy change for their sworn personnel over the afternoon and early evening.

On Monday, the city of San Diego did likewise, citing the widely protested Memorial Day death of George Floyd, who passed out and died after being pinned by the neck to the ground by an officer's knee for nearly nine minutes in Minneapolis. He repeatedly said he could not breathe in the final minutes of his life.

"We are watching the hurt and pain so many people are expressing after the tragic death of George Floyd and are committed to taking new actions to make sure something like this doesn't happen in San Diego," Mayor Kevin Faulconer said.

The Oceanside Police Department also has banned the controversial compliance technique amid protests over Floyd's in-custody death.

In a carotid restraint — a type of so-called chokehold also known as a "sleeper hold" — an officer applies pressure to vascular veins on the side of a detainee's neck to render the person unconscious in a matter of seconds. A different type of chokehold puts pressure on the front of the neck and throat, cutting off air, but if done wrong, the sleeper hold can also asphyxiate.

The use of the carotid restraint locally has caused "much concern and frustration by many in our minority communities," Faulconer said.

The sheriff also said he decided to make the policy change due to input from the community.

"I have and always will listen to any feedback about the public- safety services we provide," Gore said. "Working together, we can ensure San Diego remains the safety urban county in the nation."


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