Choke Hold Put To Reality Check

Monday, June 15th 2009, 6:09 pm
By: News On 6

By Lori Fullbright, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- Since the video surfaced of the scuffle between an OHP trooper and a paramedic, many have wondered if it was appropriate for Trooper Martin to grab the throat of EMT Maurice White.  Every law enforcement agency has its own policy for using force.  Knowing how and when to use force is a life- saver for police officers because 55,000 of them are assaulted every year in the United States.

Oklahoma's training agency, CLEET, teaches one neck move for subduing a suspect.  There is a second one, but it can kill someone, so it is only to be used when officers are fighting for their lives.

The power of the neck restraint is that it can render a suspect unconscious in 7-10 seconds.  That is especially effective if the struggle is on the ground and it could give an officer time to get a suspect handcuffed before he or she wakes up.

Self defense experts say the move has been tested over centuries in various martial arts and should not permanently injure the suspect.

"If the subject is hitting a law enforcement professional, it is the go to move," said CLEET instructor Billy McKelvey.

Billy McKelvey, now with the Tulsa County Sheriff's Office, taught self defense tactics for the state law enforcement training agency, CLEET, for five years.  He says the other neck move is the bar choke hold, where the forearm is at a 90 degree angle across the throat and is something else altogether.  It cuts off oxygen from the heart to the brain and can cause death.

That particular hold can crush the larynx.

The neck restraint is all about restricting blood flow from the brain down, not from the heart to the brain and is about pressure on the veins, not the larynx.

Deputy McKelvey does not teach a throat or neck move while facing a suspect during a struggle.  He says if the officer is facing the suspect, they are taught to go for the hands and arms.