American law enforcement applies physical power through a “continuum of force.” Each agency has its own in accordance with that jurisdictions laws and regulations. It is difficult to make absolute statements concerning continuums because they are so numerous and often contradictory. Nonetheless, I’ll offer an absolute statement: Nobody is allowed to apply a chokehold in less than serious circumstances and no agency teaches chokehold techniques. Chokeholds can easily kill because of the possibility of unintentional damage to the windpipe. Even when pressure is released prior to death or unconsciousness, death may occur due to damage the trachea. So, officers who apply a chokehold do so in the last extreme when it appears no alternative is available. That was not the circumstance in New York when a NYPD detective confronted a black market cigarette salesman, nor was it true that the officer applied a chokehold. Continue reading