Milwaukee's Fire and Police Commission unanimously approves chokehold ban

NOW: Milwaukee’s Fire and Police Commission unanimously approves chokehold ban

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Milwaukee's Fire and Police Commission voted unanimously Thursday, May 6, to ban the use of police chokeholds.

The decision comes after months of delay. 

In December, the commission banned chokeholds, but there was an exception for life and death situations. Thursday's vote got rid of that exception. 

“It’s far too dangerous to use these chokeholds, to be used by law enforcement,” said one Milwaukee resident.

During an hour of public comment, nearly 40 people spoke up, asking the commission to ban chokeholds without exception.

“I am a social worker and I believe we need to look at different ways for de-escalation,” one woman told the commission.

Milwaukee police officers are not trained to use chokeholds and the police union has said it does not support using them. But the union says officers should maintain rights to self-defense as outlined in state law.

One commissioner brought up those legal questions. 

"I don't think anyone would want to see chokeholds, but at the same time, what can we do to take a position -- a legal position -- that's going to hold up in court? said Commissioner Fred Crouther.

Ultimately though, the six commissioners unanimously voted to get rid of that exception and ban all chokeholds.

"My goal as a commissioner is to make sure we are providing every possible protection to the general public members and not just the people in our police and fire departments," said Commissioner Amanda Avalos. "The harm that chokeholds could potentially have on the general public is far greater than the less probable risk of an officer's life being at that level of danger with no other option."

The FPC also put the search for a police chief on hold indefinitely during Thursday night's meeting.

The decision comes as the city and former police chief Alfonso Morales are locked in a legal battle over his demotion last year. 

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