Where do Tampa Bay police agencies stand on neck restraints?

8 On Your Side

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – In the wake of George Floyd’s death while in police custody, 8 On Your Side had a simple question: Are Tampa Bay area officers and deputies ever allowed to utilize a neck restraint?

If an officer’s life is in danger, anything goes. But outside of that situation, most officers avoid the neck area because just one mistake can be deadly.

Eric Garner and George Floyd died six years apart but they had much in common. In each case, a police officer utilized a neck restraint.

It’s a technique that’s become increasingly controversial in recent years.

“It is a very delicate part of the body,” said Andrew J. Scott, a former Boca Raton police chief.

Scott spent more than 40 years in law enforcement. He now testifies as an expert witness in use-of-force cases in both state and federal courts.

“In general, for most of law enforcement, no neck restraint is allowed,” said Scott.

Some departments allow one specific technique called a vascular neck restraint or carotid restraint. In this technique, the officer compresses the subject’s neck to cut off the blood supply, not the oxygen supply.

“It will almost look like somebody’s got another person in a headlock,” said Scott. “If not applied properly, you can wind up killing somebody.”

8 On Your Side investigates looked into the neck restraint policy at law enforcement agencies across the Tampa Bay area.

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd addressed the George Floyd case last week.

“Every professional police officer in this country is scratching their head and going dude, what are you thinking? What are you doing?” said Sheriff Judd. “Nothing is ever trained about putting knees on necks.”

Experts tell 8 On Your Side, no police academy teaches officers to put a knee into a subject’s neck.

The following law enforcement agencies tell 8 On Your Side they’ve banned all forms of neck restraints, including the technique that cuts off the blood supply.

  • Hernando County Sheriff’s Office
  • Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office
  • Manatee County Sheriff’s Office
  • Pasco County Sheriff’s Office
  • Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office
  • Polk County Sheriff’s Office
  • Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office
  • Tampa Police Department

8 On Your Side is still waiting to hear back from several other local law enforcement agencies.

Additionally, if you know of a relevant case where officials utilized a neck restraint, email investigator Mahsa Saeidi at MSaeidi@WFLA.com

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