Tuscaloosa Bans Biased Policing, Use of Chokeholds
The Tuscaloosa City Council unanimously approved new policing protocols Tuesday night that will prohibit biased policing, ban the use of chokeholds and create more interdepartmental accountability at the Tuscaloosa Police Department.
"We felt so strongly about it that we wanted to have something in writing for the city, so that the citizens know that we have taken a look at a lot of different things," Tuscaloosa Police Chief Brent Blankley said.
The changes adopted Tuesday include a ban on "choke hold and vascular neck restraints," the creation of an obligations for officers to prevent and report abuse and a ban on biased policing.
The ordinance defines a choke hold "as a physical maneuver that restricts the blood flow to the brain and/or individual's ability to breath for the purposes of incapacitation."
Officers who are guilty of using these holds face a "Class A offense" under the City of Tuscaloosa's Employee Discipline Policy. According to the Employee Discipline Policy, a Class A offense results in termination.
"You're seeing that all across the country," Blankley said. "We want our officers to definitely protect themselves but to be safe as possible while we do it."
The ordinance also defines a set of guidelines to achieve what the city calls "Unbiased Policing." This section of the ordinance adopted Tuesday calls for all TPD officers to be impartial when dealing with the people they police. Officers are forbidden from treating a suspect differently based on their race or sex, for example, but are also instructed to recuse themselves from any situation in which the officer is friends or family with a suspect and call in another officer to take over.
"We love our community [and] we want the community to love us so we're doing everything we possibly do to make that connection," Blankley said.