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Police Complaints Board Issues Report on Improving MPD’s Policy on the Use of Chokeholds and Other Neck Restraints

Monday, August 10, 2015
Board recommends revisions to MPD’s use of force policy, review of D.C. law

(Washington, DC)  – The District of Columbia’s Police Complaints Board (PCB), the governing body of the Office of Police Complaints (OPC), today submitted a report to Mayor Muriel Bowser, the Council of the District of Columbia, and Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) Chief Cathy L. Lanier recommending MPD improve its policies on the use of chokeholds and other neck restraints.

PCB’s review determined that MPD’s primary use of force policy, General Order 901.07 “Use of Force,” does not conform to District law regarding the use of neck restraints.  Although the Department does have a directive in place, Special Order 93.25, “Use of Carotid Artery Hold,”  that is in compliance with District law, officers are not being trained on the policy. 

Additionally, the differing standards in the two policies raise questions about whether officers receive clear guidance regarding the proper use and implementation of the technique.

To that end, PCB recommends that MPD revise its force and neck restraint policies to comply with District law, and provide detailed training to its officers on the revised directives.  Specifically, the Board proposes the following:

  • MPD should ensure that its neck restraint policies comply with best practices and current District law.
  • MPD should develop comprehensive recruit and in-service training on the use of neck restraints that comply with best practices and current District law.
  • As a long term measure, MPD and the District Council should consider reviewing the Act and determining whether the 1986 law concerning the use of chokeholds and neck restraints should be amended.
  • The District Council should consider expanding OPC’s authority to include the ability to monitor and review all use of force incidents singularly and in the aggregate, make recommendations, and issue public reports where appropriate.

“No issue is more divisive for community relations than the perception that police use of force has been excessive or disproportionate,” said Michael G. Tobin, OPC’s executive director.  “In addition to reviewing the law and adopting the policy and training recommendations listed above, the District should also consider whether it would be in the best interests of our community and MPD to have the Office of Police Complaints play a role in independently monitoring and reporting on the use of force.”

To view a copy of PCB’s full report and recommendations on MPD’s policies and procedures regarding chokeholds and neck restraints, visit