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Salt Lake City police latest agency to ban chokeholds

June 10, 2020 GMT
People gather during a Black Lives Matter protest Wednesday, June 10, 2020, in Salt Lake City. With loud chants of "No justice, no peace" and "Black lives matter," a couple of thousand people rallied on Washington Square in downtown Salt Lake City Wednesday morning calling for an end to police brutality. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
People gather during a Black Lives Matter protest Wednesday, June 10, 2020, in Salt Lake City. With loud chants of "No justice, no peace" and "Black lives matter," a couple of thousand people rallied on Washington Square in downtown Salt Lake City Wednesday morning calling for an end to police brutality. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
People gather during a Black Lives Matter protest Wednesday, June 10, 2020, in Salt Lake City. With loud chants of "No justice, no peace" and "Black lives matter," a couple of thousand people rallied on Washington Square in downtown Salt Lake City Wednesday morning calling for an end to police brutality. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
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People gather during a Black Lives Matter protest Wednesday, June 10, 2020, in Salt Lake City. With loud chants of "No justice, no peace" and "Black lives matter," a couple of thousand people rallied on Washington Square in downtown Salt Lake City Wednesday morning calling for an end to police brutality. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
1 of 6
People gather during a Black Lives Matter protest Wednesday, June 10, 2020, in Salt Lake City. With loud chants of "No justice, no peace" and "Black lives matter," a couple of thousand people rallied on Washington Square in downtown Salt Lake City Wednesday morning calling for an end to police brutality. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

Salt Lake City police became the latest law enforcement agency to formally ban chokeholds under new policy released Wednesday that comes in the the wake of George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis that has led to calls for police reform.

The updated policy also prohibits police from firing tear gas into crowds.

Utah’s capital city joins Phoenix, Denver and several other cities where police officers will no longer be allowed to use the chokehold technique.

At a city council work session Tuesday, Chief Mike Brown said this new policy reflects what was already standard procedure for the department. He said officers were never taught to use chokeholds or given access to tear gas in crowd control situations.

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“These are big deals, and I think Salt Lake City should lead from the front,” Brown said. “It’s not a hard decision. We don’t do these things, but we should state it in black and white.”

Brown also told council members that officers do not use rubber bullets.

The policy previously said tear gas could be used for crowd dispersal but now it can only be used “against barricaded suspects based on the circumstances.”

A ban on choke holds by police is included in a far-reaching proposal unveiled this week by Democrats in the U.S. Congress in response to the mass protests denouncing the deaths of black Americans in the hands of law enforcement. The package would also limit legal protections for police and create a national database of excessive-force incidents, among other changes.

The legislation’s prospects are uncertain during a polarized election year. President Donald Trump is staking out a tough “law and order” approach in the face of the outpouring of demonstrations and demands to re-imagine policing in America.

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Sophia Eppolito is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.