Attorney General Josh Shapiro, Pennsylvania lawmakers call for banning chokeholds

Thursday, June 18, 2020
AG Josh Shapiro, lawmakers call for banning chokeholds
AG Josh Shapiro and other lawmakers are calling for the ban of chokeholds.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, along with members of Congress and law enforcement, is calling for Pennsylvania to enact a chokehold ban.

"In my office, and this is important. Chokeholds are not used as a restraint," said Shapiro. "We don't train our agents to use chokeholds and we don't use them period. This practice isn't included in the training that most commonwealth police officers receive."

During a press conference Thursday morning, 3rd District State Senator Sharif Street (D) discussed legislation he co-sponsored that would enact a chokehold ban and create a database to track police misconduct.

"We are here because this did not happen in isolation. Eric Garner and others were killed through asphyxiation this is not a standardized part of how police are supposed to conduct themselves," said Street.

In response to the death of George Floyd, lawmakers at the state and federal level are pushing for police reform. Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey (D) is co-sponsoring the Justice in Policing Act to enhance police accountability and transparency.

"Each level of government has a responsibility to address the systemic abuses driven by hundreds of years of racial oppression," said Casey. "Pennsylvanians and people across our nation have made their voices heard, and we must work to hold police accountable, improve transparency by collecting better data, and improve police training and practices."

The Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency found only 118 of the more than 1,000 law enforcement agencies in Pennsylvania are accredited. The PA Chiefs of Police Association accredits law enforcement agencies, which if accredited, departments are required to follow certain police practices, which include the forbidden use of chokeholds.

"You're constricting someone's airway. To do such, as you know, you're looking at potential for serious bodily injury or death," said Abington Police Deputy Chief Kelley Warner. "We just don't do that. As soon as you gain compliance from an individual, we de-escalate, we back off, we ensure they're safe."