SAN DIEGO – In a reversal, San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore said Wednesday the department is ending its use of the carotid restraint by deputies “effectively immediately.”
The statement comes amid a period of national unrest over the May 25 police killing of Minneapolis man George Floyd, who was seen in a video pinned to the ground for nearly nine minutes with an officer’s knee on his neck. Floyd’s death has sparked calls for police departments to end using the restraint, also referred to as a “sleeper hold.”
Gore said the decision was made “in light of community concerns, and after consultation with elected officials throughout the county.” He was quoted earlier in the week saying he was “reluctant” to take that technique away from his deputies.
“I have and always will listen to any feedback about the public safety services we provide,” Gore said in a tweet Wednesday.
In an interview Tuesday, Gore defended the use of the restraint, arguing that if deputies don’t have it in their repertoire, “then we’re forced to go to impact weapons which are clubs to Tasers to pepper spray.”
“They all have consequences to their use,” he said.
Also on Wednesday, officials from police departments in Carlsbad, Chula Vista, Coronado, El Cajon, Escondido, La Mesa, National City and Oceanside, along with San Diego Harbor Police Department, said they will no longer use the restraint.
On Monday, San Diego Police Chief David Nisleit said he’d started evaluating the department’s policy on using the hold last week after video of Floyd’s death was widely circulated. The department also decided to end its use of the carotid restraint.
“I have heard from the community, and the department wants to work toward strengthening our community partnerships to keep all San Diegans safe,” Nisleit said.
School district and university police departments also announced Wednesday they will no longer use the restraint. They include San Diego Community College Police Department, San Diego State University Police Department, University of San Diego Police Department and San Diego Unified School District Police Department.