In recent months, law enforcement agencies across the country have come under scrutiny for policies and practices regarding arresting and apprehending individuals.
The outcry comes on the heels of the death of George Floyd, a Minneapolis man who died while in police custody. Floyd's death quickly went viral as video showed a police officer with his knee on the neck of Floyd as the suspect cried out that he could not breathe.
The Saline Courier has requested and received policies from Saline County's three largest law enforcement agencies. The request was made through the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act.
The Benton Police Department, under Policy 402, is the only agency of the three to outline the use of the carotid control hold (chokehold or vascular neck restraint).
Across the nation, a number of departments have totally removed this particular use of force.
The approved use of force falls under the department's non-deadly force procedures.
"The proper application of the carotid control hold may be effective in restraining a violent of combative individual," the policy states.
A number of guidelines also control when this particular use of force may be applied, including:
•The officer shall have successfully completed department-approved training in the use and application of the carotid control hold.
•The carotid control hold may only be used when circumstances perceived by the officer at the time indicates that such application reasonably appears necessary to control a person in any of the following circumstances: The subject is violent or physically resisting; the subject, by words or actions, has demonstrated an intention to be violent and reasonably appears to have the potential to harm officers, him/herself or others.
•The application of the carotid control hold on the following individuals should generally be avoided unless the totality of the circumstances indicates that other available options reasonably appear ineffective, or would present a greater danger to the officer, the subject or others, and the officer reasonably believes that the need to control the individual outweighs the risk of applying a carotid control hold: females who are know to be pregnant; elderly individuals; obvious juveniles.
•Any individual who has had the carotid control hold applied, regardless of whether he or she was rendered unconscious, shall be promptly examined by paramedics or other qualified medical personnel and should be monitored until examined by paramedics or other appropriate medical personnel.
•The officer shall inform any person receiving custody, or any person placed in a position of providing care, that the individual has been subjected to the carotid control hold and whether the subject lost consciousness as a result.
•Any officer attempting or applying the carotid control hold shall promptly notify a supervisor of the use or attempted use of such hold.
•The use or attempted use of the carotid control hold shall be thoroughly documented by the officer in any related reports.
•Any officer attempting or applying the carotid control hold shall ensure that the pressure is applied to the subject's carotid artery, and not on the subject's airway. Pressure shall be released once compliance has been gained or subject loses consciousness as a result.
Benton Police Chief Scott Hodges said there has been no use of the hold in the last six months.
During a recent daily COVID-19 briefing, Fred Weatherspoon, the deputy director of the Arkansas Law Enforcement Training Academy, said rookie officers are not trained on the chokehold.
Weatherspoon said they have consistently reviewed the training curriculum so when students leave they are well grounded in the right way of doing things.
Other uses of non-deadly force outlined by BNPD include:
•The SWAT team is trained to use bean bag rounds, rubber bullets and OC (oleoresin capsicum) projectiles.
The Bryant Police Department policy regarding non-deadly force outlines the following:
•Police baton and flashlights, "should not be struck in the head, neck, groin area or kidneys."
•Weaponless defense/arrest tactics as outlined in the department's training.
The Saline County Sheriff's Department also outlines its procedures in its policies, including hard hand control, which can include punches and other physical strikes, including knees, kicks, and elbow strikes that have the possibility of creating a stunned mental state and/or motor dysfunction.
Other uses of force include:
•Electronic control devices.
•Impact weapons, such as batons.