Update: Neck Holds and Carotid Restraints Prohibited in New Policy

Update: 6/19/20

The Use of Force policy around Neck Holds and Carotid Restraints has been released. Below is the updated policy with the changes in Bold

8.050 – Use of Force Definitions (changes only)
Types of Force:
Force: Any physical coercion by an officer in performance of
official duties, including the following types of force:
Type III – Force that causes or is reasonably expected to cause,
great bodily harm, substantial bodily harm, loss of
consciousness, or death.
The use of the following is a Type III:

  • Neck and carotid holds
  • Use of stop sticks on a motorcycle
    -Impact weapon strikes to the head
    For further guidance, see 8.400.
    Deadly Force: The application of force through the use of
    firearms or any other means reasonably likely to cause death,
    great bodily harm. For further guidance, see 8.400.
    When reasonably likely to cause death or Great Bodily Harm,
    Deadly Force includes:
  • Shooting a firearm at a person
  • Hard strike to a person’s head, neck, or throat with an
    impact weapon
  • Striking a person’s head into a hard, fixed object (examples
    include but are not limited to concrete objects or surfaces,
    or solid metal structures such as bars or guardrails).
  • Using stop-sticks on a moving motorcycle.
  • Neck and carotid restraints may only be used when deadly
    force is authorized. See 8.300 POL 9
    Additional guidance on reporting force may be found in 8.400

    Head and Neck:
    Seattle Police Manual
    Head Control: A trained technique utilized to control the
    movement of a subject’s head or neck that does not involve a
    neck or carotid restraint.
    Neck Restraint (Prohibited): Any technique involving the use
    of an arm or other firm object to attempt to control or disable a
    subject by applying pressure against the windpipe, or the frontal
    area of the neck with the purpose or intent or effect of
    controlling a subject’s movement or rendering a subject
    unconscious by blocking the passage of air through the
    windpipe..
    Carotid Restraint (Prohibited): Any technique which is applied
    in an effort to control or disable a subject by applying pressure
    to the carotid artery, the jugular vein, or the sides of the neck
    with the purpose or intent or effect of controlling a subject’s
    movement or rendering a subject unconscious by constricting
    the flow of blood to and from the brain. A carotid restraint is an
    intentional force application.

    8.200 – Using Force (changes only)
  1. Use of Force: When Prohibited
  • Officers are prohibited from using neck and carotid restraints in
    all circumstances
  • An officer will not use force to punish or retaliate
  • An officer will not use force against individuals who only verbally
    confront them unless the vocalization impedes a legitimate law
    enforcement function (See 5.160 – Observation of Officers).
  • An officer will not use force to stop a subject from swallowing a
    substance that is already in their mouth; however:
  • Officers may use reasonable force, not including hands to
    the neck or insertion of any objects or hands into a
    subject’s mouth, to prevent a suspect from putting a
    substance in their mouth
  • In the event that an officer reasonably believes that a suspect
    has ingested a harmful substance, officers shall summon
    medical assistance as soon as feasible.
    Seattle Police Manual
    Page 4 of 6
  • An officer may not use force to extract a substance or item from
    inside the body of a suspect.
    Exception: This prohibition does not apply when force is
    necessary to facilitate a forensic blood draw. In that
    situation, officers will document any use of reportable
    force.
    8.400 – Use of Force Reporting and
    Investigation (changes only)
    8.400-POL-1 Use of Force Reporting and Investigation
    Force Threshold Examples
    Type III
    Force that causes or
    is reasonably
    expected to cause
    great bodily harm,
    substantial bodily
    harm, loss of
    consciousness, or
    death
    Great Bodily Harm
    Substantial Bodily Harm
    Deadly Force
    Criminal Conduct by Officer(s)
    related to the use of force
    Serious Policy Violation related to
    the use-of-force (See 5.002)
    Discharging a firearm at a person.
    See 8.300 POL 3
    Intentional Application of Neck and
    Carotid Holds. See 8.300 POL-9

    Deployment of stop sticks on a
    vehicle causing injury greater than
    Broken bone or
    tooth
    Potentially serious
    head injury
    Dislocation, even if
    reset
    Loss of
    Consciousness
    Permanent
    disfigurement or
    loss of the function
    of any bodily part of
    organ
    Incidents where the
    suspect is admitted
    Seattle Police Manual
    Page 5 of 6
    Force Threshold Examples
    Type II or use of stop sticks against
    a motorcycle. See 8.300 POL 6 (4)
    Impact weapon strike to the head,
    neck, throat, spine or genitals. See
    8.300 POL 4
    Striking a person’s head into a
    hard, fixed object (examples
    include, but are not limited to
    concrete objects or surfaces, or
    solid metal structures such as bars
    or guardrails).
    Canine physical contact resulting in
    greater than Type II injury
    Vehicle-related force tactics
    resulting in or reasonably likely to
    cause Type III injury. See 8.300
    POL 6
    to the hospital as a
    result of the force
  1. Officers, Including Witness Officers, Will Verbally Notify a
    Supervisor Following Any Use of Reportable Force, As Soon As
    Feasible
    a. Officers who use reportable force while on-duty shall call for
    an on-duty SPD sergeant
  • Known inadvertent contact with a subject’s neck during the
    application of a head control tactic, or other control technique
    which results in momentary contact with the neck of a subject
    without the risk or intention of restricting the flow of blood or
    oxygen is not a neck or carotid restraint, but must be screened
    with a supervisor.

  1. The Sergeant Will Review the Incident and Do One of the
    Following:
  • Classify the investigation as Handcuff Discomfort, Type I or Type
    II as appropriate.
  • Call the on-call FIT representative via Communications and
    screen a Type III response by the FIT
  • Any contact with the neck, causing or reasonably likely to cause
    injury or loss of consciousness will be screened with FIT.

Original:

As concerns have been raised around the country about the use of neck-holds and carotid restraints, we have received many questions locally about the Seattle Police Department’s policy on these tactics.   SPD’s policy on such restraints, which has not changed substantively since 2014, states in full:

8.300 – POL- 9 Use of Force – Neck Holds and Carotid Restraints

Neck restraints and carotid restraints are strongly disfavored by the Department due to the fact they create a high risk of injury or death when improperly applied. Any use of a neck or carotid restraint is a Type III use-of-force, will result in a FIT investigation, and will be subject to strict scrutiny by the Force Review Board.

Known inadvertent contact with a subject’s neck during the application of a head control tactic, or other control technique which results in momentary contact with the neck of a subject without the risk or intention of restricting the flow of blood or oxygen is not a neck or carotid restraint, but must be screened with a supervisor.  Any contact with the neck, causing or reasonably likely to cause injury or loss of consciousness will be screened with FIT.

1. Officers Are Prohibited From Using Neck and Carotid Restraints Except When Deadly Force is Justified

2. Officers Will Place the Subject in the Recovery Position and Summon Medical Aid Immediately Following the Application of Neck and Carotid Restraint, ifFeasible

3. Officers Shall Monitor All Subjects Who Have Been Subjected to Neck and Carotid Restraints While They Are in Police Custody

SPD’s use of force policies are all online and can be found here.