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Here’s how Central Florida law enforcement agencies use neck restraints

Most don’t train deputies to utilize it

Protesters all over the U.S. and around the world are demanding justice and police accountability after a video surfaced of a Minneapolis police officer kneeling on George Floyd’s neck until he went unconscious.

Floyd died on May 25 and the video of his final moments sparked outrage and protests in the Central Florida area.

Rep. Val Demings, who could potentially run for vice president alongside Joe Biden, and who served as the chief of the Orlando Police Department, is calling for law enforcement agencies nationwide to end the neck restraint tactics like the one former Minneapolis Officer Derek Chauvin was seen using on Floyd.

News 6 has reached out to law enforcement agencies in the Central Florida area to ask about deputy training and the use of neck restraints. Below are the agencies that have responded so far.

Orange County Sheriff’s Office

The use of neck restraints is prohibited, according to the agency’s Use of Force policy.

Its policy does, however, say empty hand techniques may be utilized “in circumstances or situations where the actions of a subject constitute aggravated physical resistance which could result in great bodily harm, permanent disability, permanent disfigurement or death to the deputy or others.” The empty hand technique refers to essentially the use of bare hands and no weapons.

Sheriff John Mina also added a deputy’s ‘duty to intervene’ to its policies in June. This means if deputies “anticipate or observe the unreasonable, unnecessary or disproportionate use of force,” they are required to step in and do what they can to stop it.

Volusia County Sheriff’s Office

“We don’t train deputies to use neck restraints,” according to a statement from VCSO.

The agency’s policy does outline the use of a neck hold which is described as lethal force within the department. Lethal force is banned in any situation except where it is justified, such as when a deputy’s life in is danger, according to the agency’s policy.

VCSO says lethal force is not justified when trying to restrain someone who is resisting or to take someone into custody. Overall, the agency’s policy outlines ways to avoid using lethal force and does not condone it.

Brevard County

The agency had a specific policy addressing the use of Vascular Neck Restraint, or VNR. That policy states:

  • Deputies who wish to be authorized to use VNR shall receive authorization only after satisfactorily completing a 4-hour, agency-approved VNR course in accordance with Florida Department of Law Enforcement guidelines.
  • VNR may be used when active resistance or higher resistance levels are encountered. The justifications are the same that exist in any other force decision.
  • The level of VNR application must be consistent with the level of resistance given by the subject and de-escalated upon achievement of compliance.
  • The subject shall be secured with restraint devices as soon as practicable.
  • Unconscious subjects should regain consciousness within 20 seconds of administering the palm reviving technique. In the event that an unconscious subject does not regain consciousness within 30 seconds, on-scene deputies must summon emergency medical services and begin resuscitation efforts.

“The intent of our agency’s response to resistance control technique training is to gain control or compliance of the subject,” said Brevard County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Tod Goodyear. “The high liability training trains techniques that can be used to gain compliance, understanding that if control or compliance has not been achieved within 30 seconds with a specific technique, the deputy needs to transition to another technique as the one being used is not achieving control.”

Goodyear described VNR as a technique where both sides of the neck are compressed for “never more than 30 seconds.” Goodyear clarified that it does not disrupt the ability of the subject to breathe.

The technique can only be used by deputies trained in the technique.

“This training is in direct compliance with the technique taught in the FDLE Basic Law Enforcement Curriculum,” Goodyear’s statement reads. He added such resistance techniques are documented to determine if the technique was used in compliance.

In a news conference Tuesday, Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey said he believed the last time anyone with the agency used the VNR technique was in August 2019.

Osceola County

The Osceola County Sheriff’s Office did not make it immediately clear if deputies are allowed to utilize neck restraints but its policies do however outline use of force.

News 6 obtained its Unusual Occurrence, Canine Utilization, Less-Lethal Extended Range Impact Devices, and Response to Resistance and Aggression policies. The protocols outline the policy and procedures associated with use of force tactics.

The agency’s policies say use of force which includes chemical agents and explosive diversions must be authorized by the incident commander or operations section chief unless “immediate action is necessary to prevent the imminent use of deadly force by the suspect(s).”

When outlining the use of impact weapons such as batons, department policy specifically states that a person’s “head, neck, throat, spine and clavicle shall not be intentional targets for an impact weapon strike, unless the member is justified in using deadly force.” A similar protocol is listed when using a taser or similar devices.

Flagler County

The use of neck restraints is prohibited, according to the agency’s Use of Force policy.

Its policy does, however, say empty hand techniques may be utilized “in circumstances or situations where the actions of a subject constitute aggravated physical resistance which could result in great bodily harm, permanent disability, permanent disfigurement or death to the deputy or others.”

The agency also states under its intermediate weapons protocol that defensive weapons like flashlights, clipboard or any other item used as a weapon of opportunity should now be used to strike the head or neck area.

“Based on the information known to date, the conduct of the officers involved are inconsistent with the best practices of today’s professional law enforcement officer,” Sheriff Rick Staly said in a post on Facebook.

Marion County

The use of neck restraints or similar weaponless control techniques with a potential for serious injury is not an acceptable use of force unless deadly force is justified, according to the agency’s policy.

“It is the policy of the Marion County Sheriff’s Office that all employees remain cognizant of every person’s right to life,” it’s policy reads. The agency added within its policies that use of force protocols are to be reviewed annually.

Deadly force within the agency is authorized only when it is needed to protect deputies or others from what is reasonably believed to be an immediate threat of death and be used only as a last resort.


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