Abigail Becker joined The Capital Times in 2016, where she primarily covers city and county government. She previously worked for the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism and the Wisconsin State Journal.

MPD squad car

Early Wednesday morning, the City Council adopted an ordinance that bans Madison Police Department officers from intentionally using carotid or neck restraints. 

In a move that aligns with current police policies, the City Council adopted an ordinance banning Madison Police Department officers from intentionally using carotid and neck restraints. 

City Council Vice President Syed Abbas, who represents District 12, said he hopes the decision will be a “strong message” to the state and other cities. 

“We all know about police brutality and excessive use of force, and we have examples all around the country,” Abbas said. “This is an opportunity for us to show the state what cities can do, and I hope the state will follow the same pattern.”

Acting Police Chief Vic Wahl said in a statement that the MPD does not teach or allow carotid or neck restraints, a technique used on George Floyd before he died in Minneapolis police custody in May.

"We don't train these techniques or authorize them, and to my knowledge have not used one in 30 years, so this ordinance is consistent with MPD practices and we do not have concerns,” Wahl said.  

The MPD does not train “the intentional continued restriction of the carotid neck arteries” as a use of force technique, according to current standard operating procedures, and is prohibited “unless deadly force is justified.”   

Deadly force, as described by the MPD’s standard operating procedures is used to protect another person or the officer from “what is reasonably believed to be an imminent threat of death or great bodily harm.”  

The ordinance, which was adopted with 19 alders in support, also defines carotid restraint to mean any technique that applies pressure to the carotid artery, jugular vein, or sides of the neck  with the purpose of controlling a person’s movement or rendering them unconscious.  

Neck restraint is defined as using an arm or other object to apply pressure to the windpipe or front of the neck to control a person or make them unconscious.  

Alds. Shiva Bidar, District 5, and Christian Albouras, District 20, were excused from the meeting. 

Share your opinion on this topic by sending a letter to the editor to tctvoice@madison.com. Include your full name, hometown and phone number. Your name and town will be published. The phone number is for verification purposes only. Please keep your letter to 250 words or less.