A discussion about a total ban on the use of neck restraints by the Columbia Police Department continued at   City Council meeting. 

Following the death of George Floyd, a national reaction to law enforcement’s use of chokeholds erupted. Floyd was declared dead after being placed in a chokehold by now-former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin for more than 9 minutes.

In June, Geoff Jones, chief of the Columbia Police Department, released a memo stating that there were changes being considered surrounding the use of force.

At the Sept. 21 council meeting, Fourth Ward Councilman Ian Thomas requested a draft ordinance on neck restraints. But at Monday's Council meeting, Jones recommended upholding the current policy.

The policy allows police officers to use “choke, strangle or similar holds” only if the officer believes there is “imminent threat of death or serious physical injury to the officer or a third party.”

A proposed ordinance would make it unlawful under any circumstance for a police officer to use either a chokehold or a carotid restraint, which restricts blood flow to the brain.

There have been 13 deaths nationwide due to the use of neck restraints. A death caused by neck restraints by police officers has never been reported in Columbia.

Roy Lovelady, a Columbia activist, said that the use of chokeholds and neck restraints directly impacts marginalized residents and deteriorates their trust in the police.

Lovelady said that, although no one has died from a chokehold in Columbia, he knew the effect they have after having been put in a chokehold by Columbia police and seeing them used on other people.

“When we called police for (assistance) when my mother was having a mental breakdown, she was immediately placed in a chokehold and thrown into the ground after a knife was taken out of her hand,” Lovelady said.

Lovelady said if the community is ever to regain its trust in law enforcement, chokeholds must be banned.

  • Public Health and Safety Reporter, Fall 2020 Studying news reporting/writing Reach me at fmnkm@mail.missouri.edu

  • Molly Hart is an assistant city editor at the Missourian. She has previously reported on state government. She can be reached at mhart@mail.missouri.edu.

  • I'm the public safety and health editor at the Missourian and a professor in the School of Journalism. I'm experienced in directing investigative projects. Call me at (573) 882-1792 with story tips, ideas or complaints.

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