Greensboro police prohibit chokeholds, strangleholds and require officers to intervene when witnessing ‘excessive use of force,’ chief says

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GREENSBORO, N.C. — Greensboro Police Chief Brian James has announced changes to GPD policy after George Floyd’s death in police custody in Minneapolis sparked protests around the world.

James says that Greensboro officers are not trained to use chokeholds or strangleholds, and those menthods of restraint have not been authorized.

A new policy enacted Monday explicitly prohibits those methods of restraint.

Officers have been required to report any policy violations. Now, Greensboro officers officially have a duty to report and intervene if they witness an excessive use of force.

Under current policy, officers are required to self-report any use of force, and those uses of force are then investigated. This policy adds on the “duty” for other officers to intervene.

Greensboro City Councilman Justin Outling said Monday that he hoped the council would review stop-and-frisk interactions this week.

“The city should act immediately with a sense of urgency,” he said. “I think 90 days is a good benchmark to update the community on the progress that we’ve made, but change should start immediately.”

Following a weekend of peaceful protests, James said he also wanted to explore the possibility of providing mental health resources to officers.

“The bad police behavior that you’ve seen nationwide, that department probably has a policy that prohibits that behavior. That’s why I go back to making sure that we have the right people, you know and making sure those people remain in the right frame of mind to do police work,” he said.

In a statement released Monday afternoon, the GDP said:

  • GPD does not teach or train its officers to use “chokeholds” or “strangleholds”, and prohibits any restraint or use of force which restricts breathing.  This morning GPD modified its policy to strictly prohibit these restraint methods absent the need to use deadly force.
  • Greensboro police officers are trained in and have long been encouraged to employ de-escalation techniques whenever available. GPD has always encouraged officers to use verbal conversation and other de-escalation techniques before resorting to force, and to use the least amount of force required. This morning GPD modified its policy to specifically state that officers will utilize “the minimal amount of force necessary” to stop resistance and effect an arrest.
  • This morning, GPD modified its policy to specifically require that any time an officer witnesses an excessive use of force, they have a duty to intervene verbally and/or physically to interrupt the act, and they must notify their supervisor so that the appropriate administrative and/or criminal investigation can begin. In addition, all Greensboro police officers are required to self-report any use of force, and each use of force is investigated administratively and, where necessary, by way of a criminal investigation.
  • In February of this year, GPD modified its policy to provide that “officers will not fire any weapon from or at a moving vehicle except to counter an imminent threat of death or serious physical injury to the officer or another person and no other means are reasonably available at that time to avoid or eliminate the danger.”
  • GPD is exploring enhanced access to counseling services for our officers. GPD wants ensure our officers have multiple outlets to process all they see and feel. The department will add policy requiring a psychological assessment every 5 years. Currently this is done when an officer is hired and after being involved in a critical incident.

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