MILWAUKEE - Milwaukee police officers are banned from using a chokehold without exception after a unanimous vote by the Fire and Police Commission Thursday, May 6.
Dozens of speakers voiced their support for the complete ban. The FPC made it clear they tried doing this initially last December.
Commissioner Everett Cocroft and Chair Nelson Soler both said they sought an initial ban. They thought that's what they passed until realizing the amended version stopped short.
The board heard from 38 speakers including teachers, social workers, parents, nonprofit leaders and more, every speaker voicing their support for the complete ban without exception, saying chokeholds are inhumane, that police do not train on them, that such a ban is a positive step toward police-community relations and that the previous ban on chokeholds, only allowed in life or death situations, wasn't good enough.
"If they have to stop and think in a moment if they're following a policy or not, that's very dangerous," said Polly Looper, former officer.
"Why do we allow police officers to use this tactic on the people that they are supposed to protect and serve? I didn't know their paychecks came included with the ability to kill. Please ban chokehold," one speaker said.
"The most costly thing that you cannot put a dollar amount on is taking a human being's life. There's just no exception," another speaker said.
Now, chokeholds are banned altogether, a move the community and commissioners say is a step in the right direction.
"The harm that chokeholds can potentially have on the general public is far greater than the less probable risk of an officer's life being at that level of danger with no other option," one person said.
The Milwaukee Police Association was the main critic of a complete ban, saying officers have a right to self-defense and that the ban could prompt a legal challenge from the MPA. FOX6 News reached out for reaction to the vote but did not hear back.
The Milwaukee Police Department released the following statement on this decision:
"The Milwaukee Police Department respects the decision of the Fire & Police Commission and appreciates the opportunity to have continued dialogue on important issues. We remain committed to partnering with the community and our law enforcement stakeholders to ensure public safety in the City of Milwaukee."