Alexander Duncan | Police Stripped of a Safe Option

Letters to the Editor
Letters to the Editor

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s signing of Assembly Bill 1196 effectively stripped law enforcement of one of its most effective and safest use-of-force options available. 

AB 1196 is the Assembly bill that has banned law enforcement’s use of the carotid control hold. Before going further, I want to discuss what the carotid control hold actually is and how it is not a “chokehold” as many like to claim. 

The carotid refers to the two main arteries that carry blood to the neck and head. The carotid control hold, when applied appropriately, places minimal pressure against these arteries as well as the jugular veins on the sides of the neck. 

The pressure on the arteries and veins reduces blood flow to the brain and quickly leads to a state of unconsciousness. 

Once a person is rendered unconscious, law enforcement officers can safely take the person into custody without resistance. 

The carotid control hold is not a “chokehold” as it does not place any pressure or force along the front of the neck, which could cause difficulty breathing and possible asphyxiation, and is avoided at all costs. 

The carotid was not only an effective and safe option for law enforcement officers, but it was also safer for the people it was used on, as it does not rely on blunt force trauma (baton strikes, punches, etc.) or pain compliance (OC spray, Taser, bodily control holds) that other use-of-force options depend on to overcome a person’s resistance. 

The carotid control could quickly render a person unconscious, effectively ending that person’s ability to fight, reducing the risk of prolonged struggles that can lead to cardiac stress and in-custody death. 

This force option was not widely discussed until the recent events surrounding the death of George Floyd, where it was inaccurately reported that he died from pressure being placed on his neck. 

However, the carotid control hold was never used or attempted on George Floyd. 

Still, due to cancel culture and inaccurate reporting, the term “chokehold” was used by the media, which then attacked the carotid control hold as well. 

The carotid control hold was one of the safest and most effective less-than-lethal force options available for law enforcement to use. This less-than-lethal force option had the possibility of saving countless people from suffering great pain and serious injury from force and even possibly death. 

Gov. Newsom’s signing of this bill took away a less-than-lethal force option (and the bill) will ultimately fail as it will leave people subject to other brutal forms of force that have a far greater ability to cause injury or even death than the carotid control hold ever could.  

Alexander Duncan

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