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Milwaukee FPC votes in favor of banning police from using chokeholds under any circumstance

Posted at 8:07 PM, May 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-06 23:21:48-04

MILWAUKEE — Milwaukee's Fire and Police Commission (FPC) unanimously voted to ban law enforcement officers from using chokeholds under any circumstance during a meeting Thursday night.

RELATED: 360: Should police be banned from using chokeholds under any circumstance?

In December, the FPC passed a new use-of-force policy that banned the use of chokeholds, except for in life-or-death situations. The new policy will take away that exception.

"My comment is very simple," said FPC Chairman Nelson Soler. "Not trained, not permitted."

Soler and other commissioners clarified they meant to remove the life-or-death exemption from the chokehold ban back in December.

For more than an hour, dozens of people spoke during public comment. All of them pleaded with the commission to ban chokeholds.

"Chokeholds are modern day lynchings," said Lahnah Rose.

"Why are we allowing police to do things in critical situations that aren’t deescalating but causing more harm to our community?" Kamila said. "And the people who are affected by chokeholds are not white people, they are a majority black and brown people in our community."

Commissioners echoed the concerns of people who spoke during public comment. Some said now the focus should be on holding officers accountable, and some brought up a use of force committee.

"I don’t know if banning chokeholds is going to stop people who are doing this stuff from doing what they’re doing, but it’s a first step," said Commissioner Ann Wilson. "But if we can get together and sit down and figure this out, that’s how we’re going to stop it."

Milwaukee Police union officials pointed out earlier this week chokeholds are not a technique used by officers to restrain people, and that state law allows for officers to use them in self-defense.

Milwaukee Police Association President Dale Borman, Jr., sent the commission a letter last month asking the commission to keep a self-defense exception in the policy.

Now MPD officers could face discipline for using a chokehold.

The vote has been delayed three times over the past two months.

During the FPC's last consideration of the ban on April 15, Acting Police Chief Jeffrey Norman expressed the department has no qualms with the resolution in its current form at the time.

Under the MPD's current Standard Operating Procedure, members of the police department are prohibited from using chokeholds or strangleholds unless the officer reasonably believes it is necessary to prevent death or great bodily harm.

The Peoples Revolution of Milwaukee held a press conference outside Milwaukee City Hall earlier Thursday, calling for the FPC to ban chokeholds completely.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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