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SLCPD will formally ban use of chokeholds and tear gas

Posted at 7:20 PM, Jun 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-09 21:20:54-04

SALT LAKE CITY — Police Chief Mike Brown said he will formally introduce a policy to ban the use of chokeholds on suspects and tear gas on crowds.

Officers do not use them anyway, but the police chief told the Salt Lake City Council he will formally ban them in a draft policy that will be presented to council members on Wednesday.

"Through our training and practice and culture, I've never been taught that. I'm not saying it doesn't need to be written down. I'm just saying we don't teach that we don't teach that, we don't train it, and on the streets we don't use it," he said.

The chief said he was willing to formalize it. The use of tear gas is not allowed, except in SWAT situations. He insisted it was not deployed during last week's violent protests.

Video of a Minneapolis police officer putting George Floyd in a knee chokehold has sparked worldwide protests and calls for police reform.

Salt Lake City Council members questioned police use of force, de-escalation training, implicit bias and civilian review boards for officer-involved shootings during a lengthy meeting on Tuesday. The council is looking at whether to pull some funding from the Salt Lake City Police Department in response to growing calls to "defund" police.

"Does the Salt Lake City Police Department have a problem with implicit bias and structural racism?" Council member Darin Mano asked Chief Brown directly.

"I do not think so. I really don't," the chief responded, adding that they have done extensive training with officers on implicit bias, but said the agency does need to hire more diverse officers to "look like the communities we serve."

The mayor and council are working to set up a commission to address policing policies and recommend changes. Mayor Erin Mendenhall said that would likely be formalized later this week.