Police Reform Action Brief: Banning Chokeholds
The Center for Justice Research (CJR) at Texas Southern University supports innovative, data-driven solutions to create an equitable criminal justice system. CJR is the premier criminal justice research center located on the campus of a historically Black college or university. Our researchers offer an important voice at this crucial time. This is the first in a series of action briefs on police reform.
- Police chokeholds that may have been deemed excessive under the “malicious and sadistic” test are now allowed under the vague and capricious test of objective reasonableness. Under the current reasonableness standard, people have been killed or needlessly injured as a result of police use of excessive force.
- The death of George Floyd resulting from an applied chokehold by a Minneapolis police officer has prompted many cities and states to move toward banning chokeholds or limiting them to cases where the use of deadly force may be warranted. Critical to implementing the most appropriate chokehold policy is a standard on the extent and degree to which they should exist. As stated by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, “While there are guidelines, there is not a universal set of rules governing law enforcement’s use of force policies”.
- We support a zero-tolerance chokehold approach. A chokehold ban will help move us further toward eliminating racially motivated police violence and reducing the historical and national tensions/distrust between minority communities and police agencies.
As state, local, and federal lawmakers, mayors, law enforcement, and other key stakeholders consider advancing police reform in their respective jurisdiction, CJR recommends the following:
- Banning chokeholds and similar restraints.
- Emphasizing training in de-escalation and appropriate restraint techniques on the use-of-force spectrum.
- Working collaboratively with communities most impacted to develop and implement culturally responsive policy solutions.
- Providing additional federal funding to research various aspects of the criminal justice system in order to inform and advance policies and programs that treat all citizens equally.