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San Luis Obispo Police Department suspends the use of carotid restraint

Posted at 1:04 PM, Jun 15, 2020

The City of San Luis Obispo Police Department suspended the use of the carotid restraint on Monday.

The action is part of a review of police department practices and responses to questions posed by the community. The suspension goes into effect immediately until further review.

The report addresses questions posed by Mayor Heidi Harmon and community members including R.A.C.E. Matters SLO as well as information police department policies as they relate to the #8CANTWAIT initiative.

"The senseless and shameless killing of Mr. George Floyd is an unfortunate reminder of systemic injustice in society that must be addressed," said Police Chief Deanna Cantrell. "Our department acknowledges there is further work to do and values its community relationships."

The report indicates that police department practices meets six of the eight areas identified in the #8CANTWAIT initiative including:

  • Requiring officers to de-escalate situations, where possible, by communicating with subjects, maintaining distance, and otherwise eliminating the need to use force.
  • Requiring officers to give a verbal warning in all situations before using deadly force (when feasible).
  • Requiring officers to exhaust all other alternatives, including non-force and less lethal force options, prior to resorting to deadly force.
  • Requiring officers to intervene and stop excessive force used by other officers and report these incidents immediately to a supervisor.
  • Establish a Force Continuum that restricts the most severe types of force to the most extreme situations and creates clear policy restrictions on the use of each police weapon and tactic.
  • Require officers to report each time they use force or threaten to use force against civilians. Comprehensive reporting includes requiring officers to report whenever they point a firearm at someone, in addition to all other types of force.

San Luis Obispo Police Captain Jeff Smith said the technique was not commonly used among officers in the department.

"The carotid restraint is a technique I'd say we rarely use," Capt. Smith said. "It's one that, again, you're typically engaged in some type of fight or someone who is very uncooperative. In the last two years, I only know of one incident where it was even attempted to be applied."

The police department says it meets the intent of the remaining two areas and looks forward to engaging with the community on those topics. Chokeholds and strangleholds have never been allowed by the department.

The report also includes information on work the police department has undertaken over the past several years to connect with marginalized groups in our community including the establishment of Police and Community Together (PACT). PACT was started by the department in 2017 with the goal of fostering open, honest communication between marginalized community members and Police to engage in tough conversations in a safe and civil forum about topics that are relevant and recurring.

The information will be presented to the City Council on Tuesday June 16, at the City Council meeting and the report is available on the City's website. Community members can participate in the remote meeting and can provide public comment in one of the following ways:

  • Public comment can be sent via U.S. Mail to City Clerk at 990 Palm Street San Luis Obispo, CA 93401.
  • Comments sent before 3:00 PM on the day of the meeting can be emailed to Comments sent after 3:00 PM should be limited to one page and can be emailed to, which will then be read aloud during the public comment period on the item specified.
  • Comments can be shared verbally. In advance of the meeting, call (805) 781-7164 to leave a comment up to three minutes. During the meeting, participants can join the webinar and put their name and item number they would like to speak on in the questions box.