Should Police Chokeholds Be Banned Nationwide?

Ever since 1983 when the Supreme Court legalized the chokehold as a legitimate restraining technique by police, it has drawn controversy. The reason is simple: unless performed by someone who is well trained, it can kill. Even using a chokehold short of death, the results for the suspect can be debilitating as there may be “short-term memory loss, hemorrhage and harm to the retina, concussions from falling when unconscious, stroke, seizures, permanent brain damage, and coma.”

The knee on the head and neck of George Floyd led directly to his death. Another high-profile death from a chokehold was Eric Garner, who died at the hands of police in New York in 2014. Garner, however, had other health issues that contributed to his death.

That’s the real danger. If a suspect has underlying health problems, the chances of dying as a result of a “sleeper” hold are much greater.

For this and other reasons, there is a serious effort underway for Congress to pass a law that would ban police from using chokeholds nationwide. New York, Illinois, and several other states have banned the practice. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo endorses the effort.

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today proposed a positive reform agenda amidst the ongoing protests across the state and nation in response to the killing of George Floyd. The reform agenda includes a national ban on excessive force and chokeholds by law enforcement officers; independent investigations of police abuse conducted by independent, outside agencies – not by local prosecutors; and disclosure of disciplinary records of police officers being investigated.

Around the world, the controversy over police chokeholds in France and Hong Kong have already led to protests.


“We cannot say that the American situation is foreign to us,” said French lawmaker Francois Ruffin, who has pushed for a ban on the police use of face-down holds that are implicated in multiple deaths in France, a parliamentary effort put on hold by the coronavirus pandemic.

The muscular arrest on May 28 in Paris of a black man who was momentarily immobilized face-up with an officer’s knee and upper shin pressing down on his jaw, neck and upper chest is among those that have drawn angry comparisons with the killing of Floyd on May 25 in Minneapolis.

The Paris arrest was filmed by bystanders and widely shared and viewed online. Police said the man was driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol and without a license and that he resisted arrest and insulted officers. His case was turned over to prosecutors.

While defending the use of the chokehold, police are very wary when it comes to employing them.


If you are going to use a chokehold, you need proper training and need to know if it is permitted by policy. Proper training includes recognizing unconsciousness, so that chokes are not applied any longer than necessary, especially the air choke. Further, it is vital that officers understand that certain members of the population are at higher risk of incurring injury or death as a result of a chokehold. Such individuals include those with cardiac disorders and younger people whose central nervous systems have not completely developed.

Continuing training is necessary in order to ensure that officers are up-to-date with the latest knowledge about chokeholds, and to help them maintain their familiarity with performing them. Such education needs to include the anatomy of the neck, medical issues, necessary precautions, and proper application. Also, it is essential that officers receive training on reviving an assailant who has fallen unconscious. Such skills should be learned from expert trainers, and not just from an article, as both practice and theory are necessary in order to master the safe use of a chokehold.

Police say that sometimes, putting a knee on the neck or torso of a suspect happens during the normal course of a struggle. Then what? Are cops supposed to get up and allow the suspect — armed or not — to have another go-around with them?

Deliberately applying a chokehold to a suspect in order to immobilize them should be illegal. There are other means to restrain a struggling or violent suspect without putting either the officer’s or the suspect’s life in danger. As long as those options are available. they should be used in preference to any kind of a chokehold.

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34 Thoughts to “Should Police Chokeholds Be Banned Nationwide?”

  1. Harry Grace

    Remove Chokehold as authorized

  2. Don

    No. Sty out of trouble and there won’t be a need now will there?

  3. Don

    No. stay out of trouble and there won’t be a need for a choke hold will there?

  4. So long as the criminal is offering resistance, he should be subdued by any means necessary. If he has underlying health concerns, perhaps he should take that into account BEFORE challenging the police. I mean, what is WITH these idiots? You don’t fight the police. You don’t run from the police. You simply inquire what they want, like any civilized human being would do….and if you have a problem, that’s why we have lawyers. Jesus Christ, it’s time for them to get in the adult world….Enough whining. Enough excuses. Equality means opportunity, but it also means RESPONSIBILITY. Rarely do you hear of anyone getting hurt by the police when they act like human beings. It’s almost always when they run or fight that these things occur. So even if the cops ARE out of line, the idiot is truly bringing it on himself.

  5. Edith Coleman

    I do not think I can comment intelligently inasmuch as I am not in the law enforcement business, so I cannot imagine some of the awful pressures law enforcement personnel undergo in doing their jobs. Having read the above caveats regarding the use of chokeholds, I’m inclined to support outlawing them, because in the heat of the pressure of restraining the most incalcitrant offender it is too easy for the most carefully trained officer to overstep the bounds of safety, and I believe no conscientious officer–of whom there is a huge majority–wants an unintentional death or permanent impairment hanging over his or her head.

  6. Al

    Police defensive tactics don’t teach choke holds as a means of restraint. If an officer’s life or the life of another is in eminent danger of death than the officer can use any means including a choke hold to disarm and control the suspect.

  7. Eric Vitale

    It is NOT a “choke hold” nor should a “choke hold” EVER be used. A choke hold was not used on George Floyd. The uniformed thug used his knee to restrict the carotid artery, restricting blood flow to the brain, for longer than the approved 5 seconds. The carotid hold is effective if deployed properly. It is NOT used to restrict airway or “choke” a person. It is used to restrict blood flow to brain and render the person who is resisting arrest unconscious. Should not be administered for longer than 5 seconds, and only re-applied not more than 3 times.
    On a side note- perhaps if we teach ALL people not to resist arrest, then they shall not die while being arrested. Instead, politicians and residents of the US are blaming ALL police. We are enabling bad behavior that is going to have severe consequences. African American males are 700 times more likely to be murdered by another African American than by any police officer. WE ARE TRYING TO SAVE YOUR LIVES! The tragic actions of one uniformed thug should not result in this systemic “all cops are bad”. Dont worry, you keep hating our butts, we shall keep trying to save yours.

  8. Peter

    The Police have a job to do, and they should be allowed to do it, WITHOUT restraints

  9. David

    No, they should be allowed to use any means necessary to protect themselves. Do you expect the criminals to fight fair?

  10. Yes, Choke holds or any pressure applied to the neck should be eliminated from any restraint. There is way to much potential to do physical damage to eyes, brain, and other parts of the head when oxygen is deprived even for a short time period. There are other means of restraint available than crushing an individual or choke holds.

  11. Candy

    No chokehold should ever be allowed by an officer or guard, it will cause at the very least bloodflow to the brain to be minimized, causing brain damage. This is no way to control a suspect! Use rubber bullets, tasers, whatever, but no chokeholds! No one needs to find out that a person they love has died from an issue like the Floyd case! I am so sad for his family and disgusted by the former officer who thought they would receive accolades for an arrest; instead now you have a murder charge. Would it not have been much easier to just taser him to subdue him? He was no longer fighting back, why not cuff him and stand him against the car or make him sit cross legged on the sidewalk? I know that in the heat of the moment it can get intense for the police, as my daddy was jumped by 3 suspects in transit to another location. And I can assure you, my daddy would have never harmed a suspect under any cicumstance! When those suspects overwhelmed him, and took his weapon, you can bet he was scared, but even if could have, he would have never reacted with that kind of mindset!

  12. Police are fighting criminals who have no rules and will do anything to escape. Try riding in a police car one Saturday night and you will see what they are facing. Police must use the force necessary to effect the arrest. Thousands of holds are used daily and only 2 in years have died and if they had not acted in a violent fashion or committed a crime they would not have been in contact with the police.

  13. Please end use of chokeholds by police nationwide

  14. Paul Fishman

    Yes, a chockhold is to be banned. It is also a part of Sado-Masochistic rape in sexual violence. Get rid of it. Even using a tazer is less deadly until you can subdue a criminal in a less deadly way.

  15. robert

    if the law breaker would be cooperative, there would be no reason to resort to this. where
    is the sympathy for other people that got hurt.

  16. I spent 32 years as a law enforcement officer, 20 of those years were in uniform. I never even attempted using the sleeper hold, there were other ways to restrain the suspect and I knew it was a very dangerous thing to do. I believe it should be outlawed nation wide.

  17. Carl

    Yes, choke holds should be banned. Also, police should not be allowed to carry firearms and and ammunition that law abiding citizens are not allowed to possess and carry.

  18. Dennis

    Most definitely choke holds should be banned especially when the suspect or suspects are already subdued there is no reason for anymore physical force of any kind.

  19. Choke holds should not be banned. Emphasis needs to be made when to use, the same as deadly force.

  20. Perhaps what we should do is ‘defund’ the hoodlums…certainly not the police. Any claim these people may have had to legitimacy disappeared the INSTANT they began clamoring for defunding-if not outright REMOVAL-of the police force. Police are among the bulwarks of society…hoodlums, alas, are most assuredly NOT. The world was a better place when little boys grew up wanting to be Marshall Dillon….rather than Snoop Dogg…

  21. Paul: If the animal is resisting, what does it matter if he or she gets hurt? Isn’t that the equivalent to me playing Russian Roulette? This isn’t like getting cancer, or having a tornado hit your house….you CONTROL whether or not the police put you in a chokehold. I’ll wager that if you answer questions politely, and cooperate fully…there won’t be a whole hell of a lot of chokeholds. The police are asked to do the impossible….maintain order, without daring to offend any of the hoodlums. The animals SHOULD be offended. They SHOULD be afraid. So far as I’m concerned, if you raise your hand to a cop, you should literally be EVISCERATED in a hail of large caliber bullets. This nonstop effort to appease our lowest class of citizenry is absolutely incomprehensible. We should be protecting the law abiding, hard-working citizen. NOT those who burglarize their homes, or who rape and brutalize them.

  22. Joe

    Kneeling on the head and neck of George Floyd did not lead directly to his death. It was definitely a contributing factor, but it was not the only reason. The intoxicating substances in his body, coronary heart disease and the officer kneeling on him were all contributing factors. Additionally, kneeing on a subject like that is not a chokehold. Mr. Floyd could breath, because if you can’t breath you can’t talk. Don’t get me wrong I believe the Ofc. Chauvin was wrong for kneeling on Mr. Floyd for so long, especially since he was already handcuffed. However, it is not the only reason for his death. I think Ofc. Chauvin should be charged with manslaughter, because of his actions which contributed to Mr. Floyd’s death and because of his inability to provide aid when he realized something was wrong. Don’t make this into something it isn’t, which is exactly what the mainstream media has done. If you are going to write something try going with the facts, instead of trying to pander to peoples emotions.

    Should chokeholds be banned? Probably, at least as a restraining option. They are difficult to apply properly and safely without proper training and practice. I believe they should only be used in deadly force type situations. There are other safer techniques that can be used with similar results.

  23. Joe

    Also, kneeling on a subject during a struggle is a commonly used technique to control a subject on the ground when handcuffing them. You get a hold of the arm, kneel on the head and ribs, handcuff the subject and then stand or sit them up, it usually doesn’t take to long. That is the proper procedure. Kneeling on a subject for 8 minutes when he is already handcuffed is not.

  24. Wayne

    What should be addressed is the real problem. The real problem is lack of respect for law and law enforcement. If “people” would just do as they are told then drastic measures would not have to be implemented at all. If you are resisting arrest then you are asking for trouble. Show law enforcement the respect they deserve.

  25. Oh, make no mistake…black hoodlums are not the problem. They are easily enough subdued, with or WITHOUT a chokehold. No, I’m afraid the true problem is white cowardice…but you wouldn’t know anything ABOUT that, would you?

  26. DB

    Why would choke holds that cut off the air to a person or stop blood flow to the brain be allowed as a reasonable and normal way to take down anybody?

  27. LJ Freeman

    No chock holds should not be banned. Sometimes they are needed. It is really simple do what the police tell you and you will not have a problem. Dont do as told and you deserve the consequences.

  28. I see today that there are numerous similar protests taking place around the world, all in order to show their ‘solidarity’ with our protesters. I am mindful of the old Thoreau quote, with regard to the people ‘all bound together, side by side…but standing on NOTHING.’ It’s amazing how much his admonitions against the fallacies of his own time seem to apply to today’s climate. You guys should be ashamed of yourselves. You deliberately spread what you KNOW to be a lie. And then refuse to display any comments that happen to derive from a man who is stronger, smarter, and certainly more honest than yourselves. How do you STAND being such weaklings?

  29. Lyn

    I believe that the situation should speak for itself if a choke hold is used it should only be until cuffed , with 4 officers that shouldn’t have taken that dang long! I also believe that we all should be aware of what could happen and shouldn’t resist arrest , then we wouldn’t be put into harms way, unfortunately we have some officers that let that badge go to there head, just like cleaning the swamp , need to weed out th arrogant officers that are there for other than protecting us from the evil doers . Just a comment, I’ve seen it happen to more whites than blacks just not recorded.

  30. Barbara


  31. In all this confusion, I actually had missed the part about the guy passing counterfeit money. Poor, naive simpleton that I am…I had assumed that an INNOCENT man had been killed. But turns out, this guy was just another hoodlum. And he was in his 40’s…he wasn’t even GOOD at being a hoodlum. All that really happened was, some random thug died while trying to steal…and as a result, Western Civilization shuts down. White people need HELP. And I don’t mean ‘sensitivity’ training, either….I mean fullbore psychiatric assistance.

  32. Agreed but this is not what it was portrayed to be. Floyd and Chauvin were part of a money laundering operation and when he tried to spend that counterfeit $20 the cop did a hit on him to protect that. El Nuevo Rodeo has some history with the FBI too.

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