New limits on police authority are nearing approval in the Colorado legislature. The bills were put forth last year attempted to ban police from using chokeholds on suspects but experienced fierce opposition from police groups and Republicans. This year’s bill has been edited and includes compromises to suit all parties. Last year’s bill prohibited officers from using a choke hold. This year’s bill narrows that definition to ban only chokeholds that cut off air flow, not those that cut off blood flow. Police say it’s an important distinction. Sen. John Cook, a Republican from Weld county said the chokehold ban has been amended to the point that “the only one that would do it is a bad cop.” Sen. Michael Johnston of Denver said the amended bill still addresses public concerns about chokeholds. “This is in response to come of the tragedies that have happened because of overuse of the chokehold,” and “puts guardrails around when this can be used.” While some ban on chokeholds is obviously necessary, it is scary that the bill needed to be so specifically amended. In the heat of the moment, will an officer be able to determine if the suspect in question can breathe? Will the bill prohibit a chokehold if the suspect explicit states they can’t breathe? The compromises are yet another example of police fighting tooth and nail against restrictions to their power. Body cameras, restrictions on their ability to shoot at moving cars, and now the right to use a chokehold are all topics the police have lobbied against. Is it really so difficult for police to do their jobs, under surveillance and without violence? Sure, in some cases police need to use violence to subdue a violent suspect but that is also why we equip them with a baton, Taser, pepper spray, and gun. Why do they still need the chokehold? The Law Offices of Steven J. Pisani specialize in the field of Criminal Defense. Call our Denver office today for a Free Consultation.
Cite: Kristin Wyatt, Associated Press, 3/29/2016