June 4 (UPI) -- Following nationwide protests over the police-involved death of George Floyd, police departments throughout San Diego County announced they have instructed officers to stop using the carotid restraint when subduing a suspect.
Several local police departments, including the San Diego County Sheriff's Department, said Wednesday they have immediately halted the controversial hold's use.
"In light of community concerns, and after consultation with many elected officials throughout the county, I am stopping the use of the carotid restraint by my deputies effective immediately," Sheriff Bill Gore of the San Diego Country Sheriff's Department said in a statement. "I have and always will listen to any feedback about the public safety services we provide."
Roxana Kennedy, chief of the Chula Vista Police Department and president of the San Diego Chiefs and Sheriffs Association, announced that by the end of Wednesday 14 local San Diego police departments plus the sheriff's office had "unanimously decided to discontinue the use of the carotid restraint hold effective immediately."
The move follows San Diego Police Chief David Nisleit on Monday stating his police force would stop using the hold that renders a person unconscious by applying pressure to the vascular veins in one's neck.
County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher then sent Gore a letter urging him to ban the hold so as to align the policies of the San Diego County sheriff and police departments.
"These restraints can lead to serious injuries or even death and are disproportionately used on people of color," Fletcher wrote. "And an even greater disproportionate use on the black community."
The California Department of Justice has said people of color are nationwide twice as likely to be put in so-called chokehold restraints than white people.
According to the website #8cantwait, a project by Campaign Zero that aims to decrease police violence through departments adopting new policies, banning choke and strangleholds, including carotid restraints, can reduce police-involved killings by 22 percent.
Carlsbad Police Chief Neil Gallucci said Wednesday his department would ban the carotid hold, which officers in his city had only used eight times since 2017.
"We join law enforcement from throughout our region in acknowledging the community's concerns over the use of this technique following the choking video from Minneapolis and the tragic death of George Floyd," he said in a statement.
Floyd died March 25 during a police interaction after a convenience store clerk reported he had used a counterfeit $20 bill.
In video of the incident, Derek Chauvin, a former Minneapolis police officer, is seen kneeing Floyd, who is prostrate and handcuffed on the ground, in the neck in excess of 8 minutes.
Chauvin has since been charged with murder and three other officers on the scene have been charged with aiding and abetting murder in the second-degree.
Floyd's death has sparked nationwide protests demanding accountability for his killing and police reforms.
In Oceanside, Chief of Police Frank S. McCoy said in his announcement banning the hold that he is aware it is time for officers to consider other means when dealing with suspects.
"It is time for our department to focus on alternative de-escalation tools and techniques that will help ensure the safety of those individuals in our custody," McCoy said in a statement. "The Oceanside Police Department is committed to continuing to provide our officers with extensive training on de-escalation tactics and promoting new tools as appropriate alternatives."