June 8 (UPI) — The Denver Police Department has announced changes to its use of force policy, including the banning of all chokeholds, following departments in several cities doing likewise amid nationwide protests against police brutality.
Denver authorities announced late Sunday in a statement that effective immediately officers must activate body-worn cameras when executing tactical operations and report to a supervisor if they intentionally point a firearm at a person, while existing policy has been updated to ban chokeholds and carotid compression holds “with no exceptions.”
“We will continue to evaluate our policies with community input and make improvements as needed in the interest of public and officer safety,” said Police Chief Paul Pazen in a statement.
The changes were made through collaboration with the department’s Use of Force Committee and in consideration of recommendations from the Center for Policing Equity, the department said.
Elisabeth Epps, who resigned from the Use of Force Committee last week, tweeted she was at police headquarters with protesters reading a list of demands as she saw an email from Pazen stating the policy changes.
“1 week of protest has in many ways accomplished more than 2+ years of Use of Force meetings [with] cops,” she said. “Maybe we should stay out here all summer.”
The changes came amid nationwide protests against police brutality and calling for racial equality that were ignited by the police-involved killing of George Floyd on May 25 in Minneapolis.
Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, was killed while being arrested by Derek Chauvin, a white police officer. Video of the arrest shows Chauvin with his knee in the neck of a prostrate and handcuffed Floyd for more than eight minutes as three other officers looked on.
The protests have rocked cities throughout the United States, and numerous police departments have moved to change policies in response.
Last week, police departments throughout San Diego County announced bans on the carotid hold followed by California Gov. Gavin Newsom stating Friday he has instructed police top brass statewide to not allow officers to use the hold.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti also said $150 million would be stripped from the LAPD’s budget and shifted to fund social programs in communities of color.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio on Sunday also announced funds from the NYPD budget will be allocated for similar community programs as well as several changes to policing policies.
The changes by Denver, however, follow a federal judge late last week ordering a temporary restraining order barring police from using non-lethal crowd dispersing devices, such as tear gas, pepper spray and rubber bullets, after a complaint was filed due to their use against protesters.
“We will comply with the judge’s directions, many of which are already in line with our community-consulted Use of Force Policy,” police said in a statement.