According to LAPD reports, the hold was used once by its officers in 2010, twice in 2009, and an average of three times a year between 2005 and 2008. The police department did not respond to multiple requests for comment on its policy.
Washington, D.C. As in Los Angeles, Washington's Metropolitan Police officers are not allowed to use neck restraints that hinder breathing, according to D.C. Code. Carotid holds are permitted, but only "when an imminent threat of death or serious physical injury exists, and no other option is available," per the MPD's use-of-force policy.
The MPD does not keep records of neck-restraint complaints against officers, a spokesperson said. But the 2013 MPD Annual Report of the Office of Police Complaints shows that 39 complaints of police chokeholds were brought against the department between 2009 and 2013. Of the 64 complaints that went through the official examination process between 2009 and 2013, none had to do with neck restraints.
New York. The NYPD's use-of-force policy is less precise than the MPD's or the LAPD's. While the NYPD does not allow its officers to use any sort of hold that applies "any pressure to the throat or windpipe, which may prevent or hinder breathing or reduce intake of air," there is no rule that directly addresses restraints such as the carotid hold, which are not meant to impede a subject's breathing.
In New York, confusion over the exact definition of a chokehold and infrequent enforcement of the chokehold ban have resulted in continued use of the tactic—despite a two-decade-old ban—according to an October report from the New York City Civilian Complaint Review Board. Rather than upholding what the CCRB calls an "unequivocal prohibition of any pressure to the neck which 'may' inhibit breathing," the NYPD's lax enforcement policies have allowed the directive to devolve into a much less stringent ban that covers only "actual and sustained interference with breathing."
Between July 2013 and June 2014, the CCRB received 219 chokehold complaints, according to the report.
Chicago. In Chicago, policy is also vague. Police officers are not trained in any neck restraints, said a spokesperson for the Chicago Police Department. Department use-of-force directives state that officers must "position the subject in a manner to allow free breathing," and neck restraints are not mentioned in the list of authorized force options. Such restraints are not, however, specifically prohibited.
This week, members of the Chicago City Council proposed an ordinance that would ban neck restraints more explicitly. The ordinance, seemingly modeled on the NYPD's policy, reads in part: "A chokehold shall include, but is not limited to, any pressure to the throat or windpipe, which may prevent or hinder breathing or reduce intake of air." It still allows for use of the tactic when an officer is "faced with a situation in which the use of deadly force is justified under applicable law." This wording could lend itself to the same lax enforcement that has made a neck-restraint ban ineffective in New York and set up the confrontation that led to Eric Garner's death.