San Diego

SDPD to Present Restraint Data to Police Practice Review Board

SDPD will present its policy and statistics on carotid restraint to the Community Review Board On Police Practices at a meeting in February

The Community Review Board On Police Practices (CRBPP) is considering pushing the San Diego Police Department (SDPD) to get rid of using the carotid restraint technique.

It’s a form of hold that’s different from a chokehold, which SDPD says it doesn’t use.

During Tuesday night's review board meeting at Balboa Park, Robert Branch was sitting front and center.

Branch was acquitted last year of all charges related to a 2015 incident where cell phone video shows him placed in a carotid restraint by a non-uniform San Diego County Sheriff’s Department detective.

“Take away the carotid restraint because it's a deadly weapon, pretty much,” Branch said.

The CRBPP is considering a future recommendation that SDPD ban using the restraint technique, like San Francisco and Los Angeles already have.

“With the San Diego Police Department, it's proven an effective technique,” said Captain Wes Morris. “It’s something we use, not often. We use it and train in the academy…to make sure we're doing it correctly."

Dr. William Smock, a surgeon with the Louisville Metro Police Department, travels the country speaking on restraining issues.

William spoke at the Tuesday night meeting, saying the carotid restraint applies 11 pounds of pressure, causing people to lose consciousness in 6.8 seconds because oxygen can't get to their brains.

“I’ve seen patients with memory problems, visual problems, coordination problems. It all depends on what part of the brain dies during the period when it’s not getting oxygen," said Dr. Smock.

Branch says he knows the impact all too well noting he had memory problems and forgot things.

Though San Diego police weren't involved in his case, Morris says the carotid restraint is an effective tool instead of using lethal force.

Morris said that in 2017 officers deployed the tactic less than 100 times, but he didn’t have figures on injuries related to the practice.

“It prevents situations from escalating. It deescalates and prevents it from getting to a potential lethal force option," Morris said.

SDPD will present its policy and statistics on carotid restraint at a meeting in February and the CCRBPP will make its decision in March.

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