BLACK VOICES

Chicago May Consider Ban On Chokeholds In Wake Of Eric Garner Protests

CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 07:  Father Michael L. Pfleger holds mass at St. Sabina Church after they held a take back the streets
CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 07: Father Michael L. Pfleger holds mass at St. Sabina Church after they held a take back the streets march in protest of the recent grand jury decisions in police-involved deaths on December 7, 2014 in Chicago, Illinois. Protests have errupted in cities across the nation after two grand juries decided not to indict the police officers involved in the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. and Eric Garner in New York City. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

Several Chicago aldermen have proposed a ban on the use of chokeholds by city police as well as other law enforcement and private security in the wake of protests related to the death of Eric Garner, the New York City man who died in July as a result of a police chokehold.

“It is our intention to forbid the use of chokeholds by peace officers and security personnel in order to avoid a similar tragic death in Chicago,” Ald. Ed Burke (14th), a former police officer, said in a statement. “We must take every step to safeguard the health and well-being of a suspect while effecting an arrest or overcoming resistance.”

The proposal, introduced Monday by the Chicago City Council's Finance Committee, would forbid the use of chokeholds by any peace officer serving within the city limits, including officers with the Chicago Police Department, sheriff's deputies, U.S. marshals and private security guards, such as those hired by retail stores.

Under the Finance Committee's proposal, a chokehold "shall include, but is not limited to, any pressure to the throat or windpipe, which may prevent or hinder breathing or reduce intake of air.”

As NBC Chicago notes, the city's Municipal Code does not currently use the term "chokehold" but specifies that "sworn personnel and security contractors must avoid sitting, kneeling or standing on a subject's chest." It also mandates that police "position the subject in a manner to allow free breathing."

Burke noted to ABC Chicago that chokeholds were at one point taught at the police academy.

In response to the committee proposal, the city's Police News Affairs released the following statement to The Huffington Post:

This ordinance would reinforce CPD’s existing directives and practices. Chokeholds are not an approved technique for our officers, we already train officers not to use chokeholds, and CPD’s directives expressly state that officers will position anyone in a manner that allows free breathing.

Aldermen supporting the proposed ban "felt it was necessary to be very specific about" language used to describe prohibited moves, City Finance Committee spokesman Donal Quinlan told HuffPost on Thursday.

"And it certainly acts as a reminder to CPD officers if they're not aware [of the department ban]," Quinlan added.

If the measure is approved by the committee, it will be put before the full city council for approval as soon as Jan. 21.

CONVERSATIONS