Miami-Dade Police Department announces ban on neck restraints during arrests

MIAMI GARDENS, FLA. (WSVN) - The Miami-Dade Police Department has announced a ban on the use of neck restraints during arrests.

The decision was announced by MDPD Director Alfredo Ramirez III in a tweet posted just after 9 a.m., Thursday.

In the thread of tweets Ramirez wrote, “I have decided to no longer authorize the utilization of the Applied Carotid Triangle Restraint (ACTR). This decision was based on a multitude of factors to include officer & public safety, feedback from policing professionals, members of our community, local leaders & officials, as well as recommendations from the Police Executive Research Forum.”

Several law enforcement agencies across the nation are currently reevaluating their policies as the demand for change continues to grow among citizens following the death of George Floyd.

Cellphone video showing Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin pressing his knee to Floyd’s neck sparked outrage across the nation and has led to more than two weeks of protests and marches.

Chauvin has since been charged with second-degree murder, and three other officers face aiding and abetting charges.

The policy change from MDPD comes after the department released an open letter to the community on Monday that listed policies already in place.

The letter stated the use of chokeholds and strongholds were no longer authorized but still allowed the ACTR.

“I’m just happy that he did put that statement out,” said Miami-Dade Commissioner Barbara Jordan.

Jordan has been among local public officials pushing for police policy reform.

“Even though I feel that the Miami-Dade Police Department has had situations where they’ve used the chokehold that has resulted in death, I think that this is a preventive method to get rid of it. There’s not a question about it.”

Most policing agencies in South Florida have already taken this step. City of Miami Police did away with neck restraints years ago, not long after the case of 24-year-old Antonio Edwards, who was handcuffed and put in a chokehold. He spent several years in a coma before he died.

The Hialeah Police Department followed suit and said they will no longer authorize the use of Applied Carotid Triangle Restraint, adding that it was a rarely used technique among officers.

Hialeah Police Chief Sergio Velazquez released a statement reading in part, “Under my administration, the Hialeah Police Department has never authorized what is being referred to as choke hold.”

Broward County Sheriff Gregory Tony weighed in on the matter in a video message posted to Facebook.

“First of all, [the Broward Sheriff’s Office] has policies that prohibit us from using any type of chokehold or strangulation techniques for sake of apprehending or gaining custody of someone. That has always been in place,” he said.

BSO and Hialeah Gardens Police still have ACTR on the books, but only to be used when there’s a justified need for deadly force.

“Using this type of chokehold and strangulation techniques, that’s deadly force. Make no mistake about it,” said Tony.

The force used in Floyd’s case was never an approved technique, but it has called attention to the potential danger of any type of restraint that involves pressure on the neck.

Ramirez discussed the new police change at the 5000 Role Models Police and Youth Conference, hosted in partnership with the Miami Dolphins, at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Thursday evening.

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