Mayor Kevin Faulconer speaks at a press conference announcing San Diego Police Department’s decision to stop using the carotid restraint method. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz
Mayor Kevin Faulconer speaks at a press conference announcing San Diego Police Department’s decision to stop using the carotid restraint method. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

SDPD officers will no longer be allowed to use what’s called a carotid restraint to subdue people – a move that’s essentially a chokehold, city leaders announced Monday.

“Law enforcement must do better, our profession must do better,” Police Chief David Nisleit said at a press conference announcing the change.

In May 2019, the department defended it as a useful tool: “If our core duty is to protect and serve and make sure we safeguard lives, then this tool is important in that endeavor and it’s something we can’t eliminate,” San Diego police Lt. Jeffrey Jordon told the Union-Tribune.

“It prevents the situation from escalating, it de-escalates it, and prevents it from going to potentially lethal force,” Captain Wes Morris told NBC 7 in 2018.

In a statement, County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher urged the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department to ban the carotid restraint as well.

But a bigger development than the carotid restraint update was Faulconer’s announcement that he plans to give a proposed police reform ballot measure his “full support.”

The measure, which includes proposals that have stalled before, but have newfound momentum “would create a commission with investigators independent of the police chief, and subpoena power over officers, witnesses and documents,” reports Andrew Keatts. “It would be represented by legal counsel that does not represent the city or SDPD, and would be modeled after the Ethics Commission, which oversees campaign finance and lobbying in the city and is independent from the rest of City Hall.”

The City Council has not yet voted to put the measure on the ballot, and it must go through the city’s meet-and-confer process.

But Faulconer suggested those steps were formalities at this point.

“That is moving forward, it will be on the ballot,” he said. “We’ve been having a lot of very good, productive conversations with our Police Officers’ Association.”

We’re Suing for Drone Docs

An unmanned, military-grade drone is scheduled to begin flying over the heads of San Diegans in 2020. It’s part of a test project being run by a local defense contractor, General Atomics, which wants to market the drones to police and other public agencies.

The Federal Aviation Administration is reviewing the project before giving clearance for the skies. But when we sought documents from that agency that might shed light on what regulations and precautions it’s requiring of General Atomics to keep San Diegans safe, we hit a wall. The agency has yet to provide them.

Those details are crucial, given that similar General Atomics drones have crashed numerous times. 

Late last week, we filed a lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act to compel the FAA and the FCC to provide the documents. 

In a new story, VOSD’s Jesse Marx lays out what we’re seeking, and why such lawsuits have become increasingly necessary as federal agencies drag their feet on meeting their legal obligations to provide public records.

Things Are Bad for Climate Plans, Good for Ospreys

I’ve gotta say, ever since MacKenzie Elmer took over writing the biweekly Environment Report newsletter, it has a lot more animal sex. 

First, there were frisky poisonous newts, now we have an update on an osprey love connection at Scripps research pier.

This week, Elmer also lays out the ways in which coronavirus-related budget and logistical issues have created new hurdles for cities trying to update their climate action plans. In San Diego, budget cuts will force the Sustainability Department to hold off on updating its plans. Other cities across the county are delaying their updates.

In Other News

The Morning Report was written by Sara Libby, and edited by Scott Lewis.

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