FPC approves new use of force standards including ban on police chokeholds

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Milwaukee's Fire and Police Commission voted to approve a new Use of Force Standard Operating Procedure  (SOP) within the Milwaukee Police Department during Thursday's meeting, Dec. 10.

The new SOP implements many items of police reform advocated for by the community.

In alignment with the national Eight Can't Wait policing reform campaign, the new SOP includes:

  • Banning chokeholds and other tactics that restrict oxygen flow on suspects unless caught in a life-or-death situation
  • Requiring de-escalation techniques when feasible and outlining appropriate techniques
  • Banning shooting at a moving vehicle, except in life-preserving circumstances
  • Enhancing reporting by requiring a use of force report be submitted if an officer points a firearm at an individual, even if not fired

The new SOP also bans the use of pepper spray on peaceful demonstrations, and includes an "I can't breathe" provision. If a person uses the statement "I can't breathe" or something similar, the officer must immediately evaluate the situation and determine if an alternative restraint or technique can be safely utilized. The officer also must request medical aid "as soon as reasonably possible."

“I want to thank the Fire and Police Commission and the Milwaukee Police Department for taking this necessary action as we work to institute meaningful police reform in our community, and I want to thank the residents who have continued to make their voices heard on this issue,” said President Johnson. “While we still have much work to do, the new standard operating procedure and its alignment with the Eight Can’t Wait campaign place an enhanced emphasis on de-escalation techniques which is a positive step forward.”

Previous files adopted by the Common Council included in the new SOP are: a resolution urging the Fire and Police Commission to adopt a rule requiring police officers to file a report every time they draw a gun, mace, or stun gun on duty, introduced by Alderman Khalif J. Rainey; a resolution urging the Fire and Police Commission to adopt a policy addressing the "I can't breathe" plea by an individual who is under police custody, introduced by Alderman Russell W. Stamper, II; and Alderwoman JoCasta Zamarripa introduced a substitute resolution urging the Board of Fire and Police Commissioners to adopt standard operating procedures prohibiting certain types of restraints and holds such as ‘chokeholds’ and ‘strangleholds’.

The updated SOP can be viewed in full, below:

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