VALLEJO (CBS SF) — The Vallejo police department announced Thursday it will prohibit use of the “carotid control hold” — also called sleeper holds — as a technique to restrain aggressive suspects resisting arrest.

“This immediate ban of the carotid control hold is the right thing to do as our department focuses on assessment and reform,” said Vallejo police chief Shawny Williams in a statement. “I also think it’s important for the Vallejo community to know that the carotid control hold is not a stranglehold or a chokehold; those types of holds were never authorized by VPD and do not reflect our values as a department.”

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According to a Vallejo police department statement sent to the media, the carotid control hold is a “vascular neck constraint that does not restrict air flow when properly applied.” It had been an approved technique in the VPD’s Use of Force/De-Escalation Policy before Thursday’s ban.

Police departments around the world are moving to ban neck restraints in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death and the widespread protests that have followed.

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Neck restraints, or neck holds, refer to the practice of officers using their arm or leg to restrain someone’s neck. The technique has been a subject of controversy for years, particularly following the death of Eric Garner in 2014 after a police officer was accused of choking him.

Law enforcement officers say the techniques are used to gain control of aggressive or resisting subjects. Some departments state that they should only be employed as a last resort, when the officer believes the subject poses a threat to their or others’ lives. But as the cases of Floyd, Garner and others have shown, neck restraints have the potential to go badly wrong — sometimes resulting in death.

The Vallejo PD ban follows a directive by Gov. Gavin Newsom last week to cease law enforcement training on the controversial technique.

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