The Janesville Police Department has updated its policies to restrict officers’ use of chokeholds, blows to the neck and other similar measures, Police Chief Dave Moore said Sunday.
Moore was responding to a Gazette editorial published Friday calling for the state Legislature to convene and take up police reforms, including a proposed statewide ban on chokeholds, urged by Gov. Tony Evers. The editorial incorrectly stated chokeholds are not addressed in Janesville police policies. Moore said the policies were changed Aug. 17 to address chokeholds.
“Right after the George Floyd thing, we started the process of changing our policy,” Moore said.
Moore said he reviewed policies from around the nation but ended up writing a chokehold policy “that is awful restrictive.”
“If you look at George Floyd, that wasn’t a chokehold. That was neck pressure. To say you won’t allow chokeholds allows a whole bunch of stuff,” Moore said.
The department’s policy on use of non-deadly force was modified to include: “Unless deadly force can be justified, officers shall not apply holds or strikes to the neck area to include choke holds, carotid holds, jugular holds, trachea strikes or throat strikes.”
Janesville police for years have trained officers to not use chokeholds, but the department’s policies did not address it.
“When things happen anywhere in the nation, we’re looking over the horizon on how we can get better,” Moore said. “When George Floyd came along, we knew our training was solid, but then we looked at policy and realized it was not in policy.”
Adding it to the department policies was “just the appropriate thing to do,” Moore said. “Not everything in our training is in policy, but this is a pretty important point.”
A reference to the sanctity of human life long included in the department’s use of non-deadly force policy was added to the deadly force policy.
“The Janesville Police Department recognizes and respects the value and special integrity of each human life. In vesting police officers with the lawful authority to use force to protect the public welfare, a careful balancing of all human interests is required,” the segment reads.