Aiken’s Department of Public Safety review policies, making additions

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AIKEN, S.C. (WJBF) — Following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis and Eric Gardner in New York, police departments across the nation and here at home are reviewing their policies.

Officials at the Aiken Department of Public Safety say that chokeholds were never a part of their training but there are other techniques they can use to prevent a situation from getting much worse.

“We don’t endorse them. We don’t train on them. It’s not something that our officers use,” Lt. Jake Mahoney of the Aiken Department of Public Safety told NewsChannel 6’s Shawn Cabbagestalk when asked about using chokeholds within the department.

We’ve learned the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy teaches using lateral vascular neck restraints. That hasn’t been used within Aiken’s department or incorporated into policy. “The only time they would ever be authorized response to resistance would be under the greatest of situations where other deadly force would be used,” Lt. Mahoney shared. “The only time that would be authorized is if the officer’s life was in danger, another officer’s life or a bystander or another victim. So it is very, very, very high to our response to resistance,” he added.

Watching events unfold nationwide caused the department to want to take a look deeper into some of its policies. “One thing we did do after review of the George Floyd incident and also in consultation with the Commissioner for Accredited Law Enforcement Agency, and also following other leaders in law enforcement, we did review our policy and we’ve provided some additional guidance to our officers,” Lt. Mahoney shared. “The vascular neck restraint or any similar neck restraints have been specifically addressed in our response resistance policy,” he added.

They are also making additions to its use-of-force policy emphasizing the officer’s duty to intervene. It’s something that was already in practice. “We put it in policy that if they observed actions, which are inappropriate, it may believe may be violating, our response to resistance policy that they do have. They do now have a duty to intervene.”

Officers are in training weekly to brush on policy and procedures. They will take on verbal communication next to keep the community safe. “We want to provide our officers with some skills and techniques they can use every day on the street when they’re talking to people so we don’t automatically have to rise to respond to some type of resistance,” he added.

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