There are times when police may need to use a chokehold to save a life. But those times are few and far between.
That's why we generally support a proposed legislative ban on chokeholds that's being debated in the Missouri Senate.
The practice of using neck restraints, more commonly called "chokeholds," has been questioned across the country after George Floyd's death last May. The Black man was suspected of passing a counterfeit $20 bill in Minneapolis. He died after a police officer restrained him by kneeling on his neck for close to nine minutes. Court documents later said Floyd had a lethal dose of fentanyl in his system.
The Missouri Independent reported last week that a bill banning chokehold received initial approval in the Senate.
We support the measure if it contains an exception for life-threatening situations. In most situations, however, other forms of restraint are effective without threatening suspects' safety or lives. In rare cases, they could save the life of the officer or the suspect, who otherwise might be shot and killed.
In general, chokeholds are not only unnecessary, but they erode law enforcement's trust in the communities they serve.
Unfortunately, most of the debate on the bill was over a provision that would repeal a requirement that Kansas City police officers reside within the city. The lawmaker who added the amendment ultimately agreed to the ban on living out of state and to allow the city to require officers reside up to 30 miles from the nearest city limit.
That's a fair compromise. Ideally, officers should live in the community in which they work. They should at least live in the state in which they work.
We ask lawmakers to approve the bill. It would help to require officers to use the least amount of restraint needed, while also building trust in law enforcement.