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Columbia City Council votes against complete ban on chokeholds


The Columbia City Council continued its discussion around chokeholds Monday night and voted against an ordinance that would have completely banned the restraints.

The Columbia Police Department revised its use of force policy after a council meeting in October to more clearly define the definition of neck restraints as a use of deadly force.

CPD's use of force policy defines deadly force as "any use of force that creates a substantial risk of causing death or serious physical injury."

The policy also clearly states the use of chokeholds is only allowed in a deadly force situation when there are no other reasonable means to stop the threat.

City leaders have been discussing the language around the police department's use of force policy and chokeholds after Ward 4 Councilman Ian Thomas asked staff to look at an ordinance as an example that would have banned the use of the neck restraints outright. Monday night, the council took a vote on the ordinance.

Thomas and ward one council member Pat Fowler voted in favor of the ordinance.

Thomas said he does not believe the language that was in the policy before the revision was a good way of discouraging the use of chokeholds. He said the updated language was also not clear enough.

"I don't feel that this significantly changes the way that an officer will interpret what she or he is supposed to do," he said.

Fowler said she thought the ordinance would have been a way to take action local citizens and activists had called for.

"There has to be some way that we validate the experiences of our black and brown citizens and how they feel and the fears they feel when they encounter our police department.," Fowler said.

Several citizens came forward at the meeting to voice support for the ordinance. They said the police department's policy was not effective enough because officers were using chokeholds in the community.

The other five council members voted against the ordinance. Several said a policy would be more effective than an ordinance, and Columbia Police Chief Geoff Jones agreed.

"It clearly defines what we need to do as far as escalation, training, how we interact with the public. So there's more meat in our policy than there really ever could be an in ordinance," Jones said.

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Sydney Olsen

Sydney Olsen reports in the evenings during the week and on the weekend.


1 Comment

  1. What a misguided, micromanagement policy solution in search of a problem. We have good police in Columbia and do not need this action by the City Council. I can see it now:

    Judge: Officer, why did you shoot the deceased in this case?

    Cop: Well judge, we were waiting for the social worker to arrive while we watched him choke the little old lady. It seemed like she was about to die so we had to take action to get him off her. We tried asking nicely, various allowed compliance holds, baton strikes, and repeated Taser shocks, but they were all ineffective. I wish I could have put him in a choke hold to get him off the little old lady but the City Council made that illegal so I had to shoot him to save her life.

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