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Indiana police officers could be prohibited from using chokeholds in most situations

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Posted at 2:54 PM, Jan 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-12 14:54:25-05

INDIANAPOLIS – An Indiana House committee voted to approve an expansive statewide police training proposal that includes establishing mandatory de-escalation curriculum and prohibits chokeholds under certain circumstances.

The bill would make a few changes to the state’s law enforcement training process, such as:

  • Establishes mandatory training in de-escalation
  • Creates a procedure to allow officers who’ve committed misconduct to be decertified
  • Defines chokeholds and prohibits them in all cases except when deadly force would be authorized
  • Makes it illegal for an officer to turn off a body camera with the intent to conceal a criminal act
  • Requires police agencies to request employment records from previous agencies.

During discussion, Rep. Matt Pierce, D-Bloomington, expressed concern over the bill’s definition of a chokehold. In the proposal, a chokehold is defined as “applying pressure to the throat or neck of another person in a manner intended to obstruct the airway of the other person.”

Pierce said the intent part could be hard to enforce, since it’s impossible to know what a person is thinking.

The bill’s author, Rep. Greg Steuerwald, R-Avon, said courts frequently use intent when discussing cases.

“They deal with it every day,” Steuerwald said. “They’re fully equipped to deal with it. Almost every criminal law has an element of intent in it.”

Rep. Robin Shackleford, D-Indianapolis, said the NAACP, the Indianapolis Urban League and the Indiana Black Expo all support the proposal.

“This is a bill that many of our community and protesters wanted to see,” she said.

The proposal is on Gov. Eric Holcomb’s 2021 agenda. It passed committee unanimously and will move to the Indiana House for discussion.