Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission to consider ban on chokeholds

NOW: Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission to consider ban on chokeholds

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- The Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission is set to discuss and consider a resolution to change or eliminate the deadly force exception to the ban on chokeholds and strangleholds for the Milwaukee Police Department. 

Currently, Milwaukee police officers are prohibited from using chokeholds or strangleholds unless the member reasonably believes it necessary to prevent death or great bodily harm, according to the Fire and Police Commission. 

The resolution would change or eliminate the deadly force exception, potentially banning the tactics under any circumstances. 

"We are totally against any use of chokeholds," said Fred Royal, the first vice president with the NAACP Milwaukee Branch, "We are in support of a chokehold ban, total chokehold ban, not with the exclusion for situations where the use of deadly force is allowed by law."

"We think that this is a technique that is not trained in the academy, so therefore such a deadly technique cannot be used in a professional manner if it is so lethal that they find it necessary not to train their officers in their particular technique," Royal added. 

The Milwaukee Police Association submitted its proposed changes. It includes "Officers maintain all rights of self defense as enumerated in Wisconsin State Statutes."

"That is the result of speaking with the FPC and also coming up with something with our attorneys, the union attorneys, to accomplish that. We wrote in that, we submitted it to the FPC commissioners and also MPD and yeah, we would like to see that included in the chokehold part of it," said Dale Bormann, Jr., president of the Milwaukee Police Association. 

"It really protects our officers in the event that if the officer, must, must have to use a chokehold to save his or her own life or save the life of somebody else, a citizen, then that will protect the officer from any further internal or state charges that they may receive. Now, the only reason why we included that line in there, is they're going to do the investigation against the officer no matter what - and we fully okay that, that's fine with us - but again, that once the investigation comes out saying 'Okay, the officer had to use that to save his or her own life or a citizen's life, that they are cleared from any future internal or external investigations."

"I still say that MPD does not train or approve of these techniques, this is not something that MPD is fighting to have in regards to this technique, but we are definitely aware of the language change and appreciate the spirit of the language," said Acting Milwaukee Police Chief Jeffrey Norman, to the commissioners last month when discussing this topic. 

In a statement, MPD said, "The Milwaukee Police Department appreciates the Fire and Police Commission (FPC) and the work they do. We look forward to continuing the dialog on this important issue. MPD’s main priority remains partnering with the community and our law enforcement stakeholders to ensure public safety in the City of Milwaukee."

The Fire and Police Commission meets Thursday, April 15 at 5:30 p.m. The meeting is virtual. Those wishing to submit public comments can do so at fpc@milwaukee.gov. 

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