An ordinance banning neck restraints will be up for a vote at the Columbia City Council’s regular meeting Tuesday night.

Neck restraints came under national scrutiny after the death of George Floyd, who died in Minneapolis in May after being held by police in a chokehold for nearly nine minutes.

If the ordinance passes Tuesday, Columbia officers won’t be allowed to use neck restraints under any circumstances. It follows calls from the community for the city to ban chokeholds outright.

Along with chokeholds, which restrict the wind pipe, neck restraints also include lateral vascular neck restraints, which block blood flow through the carotid artery to the brain.

Under the current policy, Columbia police officers are allowed to use neck restraints only if the situation calls for deadly force and a neck restraint is the only reasonable means an officer has to stop the threat, according to the CPD Policy and Procedure Manual.

If the proposed ordinance fails Tuesday, the Police Department will continue using its current policy.

Fourth Ward Councilman Ian Thomas requested the change in policy during the Sept. 21 council meeting. At the Oct. 19 meeting, Police Chief Geoff Jones presented the council with a draft ordinance.

During a discussion at the October meeting, Jones said he recommended keeping the department’s current policy. City Counselor Nancy Thompson said neck restraint bans in departments across the country included exceptions like the one in the current policy.

Council members disagreed at the October meeting about whether the city needs an outright ban. For the most part, though, council members agreed the use of force policy needed to be revised with clearer language.

For Tuesday’s meeting, the Police Department revised its use of force policy to make it clearer and to better meet national standards set by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies.

The revisions include requiring documented initial and annual deescalation and neck restraint training for officers, as well as clarifying definitions of neck restraints as deadly force.

It also added a section requiring any further revisions to be sent to the city manager and council members, with the added potential for city officials to require public notice or add the revision to the council’s agenda.

In general, officers should try to deescalate a situation before using force, according to the manual. When deescalation doesn’t work, officers may use less-lethal force.

An officer should only use deadly force if the person presents an imminent threat to the officer or anyone else’s safety, according to the manual.

Columbia has had no reported deaths caused by an officer using a neck restraint.

Tuesday’s agenda also includes:

A presentation of the Boone County Bicentennial Mural.

  • Eight amendments to the fiscal year 2021 budget, including two amendments for COVID-related expenses.
  • A vote on whether to rezone property for “The Cottages of Northridge.”
  • A comment from Columbia Chamber of Commerce President Matt McCormick about relief for Columbia businesses.

City Council meetings typically occur on Monday nights, but this week’s meeting will occur Tuesday in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The meeting will begin at 7 p.m. in the council chambers of the Daniel Boone City Building, 701 E. Broadway, and will be livestreamed on the city’s website.

  • Assistant city editor, spring 2021. Studying print and digital news journalism. Reach me at skylarlaird@mail.missouri.edu, or in the newsroom at 882-5720.

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