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'Carotid control,' chokeholds and 'compassionate' restraint explained by Phoenix police officials

Posted at 9:59 AM, Jun 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-11 15:11:37-04

PHOENIX — Phoenix police officials further discussed policy changes and misconceptions surrounding the controversial “carotid control technique,” while demonstrating a more “compassionate” technique that officers are trained to use.

Officer Mike Malpass, an expert in use-of-force and de-escalation training, held a discussion with a Phoenix Police Department spokesperson Thursday morning.

Watch the full discussion in the player below.

Phoenix police explain, show different control techniques

Officer Malpass currently teaches at the Phoenix Police Regional Academy and did a physical demonstration of one type of “compassionate restraint.” The method is a safer option for officers needing to take someone into custody, especially if the person did not commit a crime, is a child or has intellectual disabilities, for example. It allows an officer to restrain someone and bring them safely into custody without hurting them, according to officials. If necessary, the officers can then escalate the restraint.

Compassionately restraining someone ultimately changes a person’s structure, carefully moving them from a standing position to a sitting or less-powerful position. The move has been in use by the department for about five years.

These types of moves are now the go-to de-escalation moves approved by Phoenix officers, as opposed to the "carotid control" method, which cuts off blood flow to the brain and can render a person unconscious.

Phoenix police have used the technique on and off for at least two decades, according to Officer Malpass. He said it can make it easier to take someone who is combative into custody.

However, the carotid control technique is not a chokehold, like many assume, according to Officer Malpass. A chokehold restricts “wind," or breath, and the carotid method restricts blood. The chokehold can cause physical damage and was not recommended by officers.

Phoenix police say they used the "carotid control method" 46 times in the last four-and-a-half years when arresting people.

Still, some departments have classified the “carotid control method” as lethal force, Officer Malpass said.

Officer Malpass said the “carotid control method” has been looked at throughout its extended usage. Officials have considered its safety and effectiveness from law enforcement, medical and legal perspectives for some time.

A demonstration of the carotid control method was not done due to the fact that Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams suspended the use of the move by officers earlier this week. Phoenix officials took action after two weeks of protesting in Phoenix, with members of the public calling for various forms of action to be taken by law enforcement following the death of George Floyd.

Several law enforcement agencies around the country have also banned the technique.