KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -- Many communities are debating the value of neck restraints. The KCPD says the LVNR neck restraint is an important tool for officers, that it’s safe, and that it’s been in use for decades.
“It allows de-escalation. It allows an application without injury where another choice would be a baton or another tool that would leave injury on a person,” Chief Rick Smith said.
KCPD reports the technique has been used 84 times in the past four years. And in the department’s history, there have never been any injuries to subjects or officers using the technique. The department maintains LVNR, which stands for Lateral Vascular Neck Restraint, is very different from a chokehold because it does not affect a person’s windpipe. It involves cutting off blood flow and that eventually makes a person pass out.
The technique was developed by a KCPD officer back in the 70’s named Jim Lindell who had a background in judo. It was to help female officers physically control larger subjects who were resisting arrest.
The LVNR technique spread. It’s now used by more than 500 police departments nationwide and even in foreign countries.
We reached out to departments across the metro. Not all immediately responded to our request regarding policy.
But many area departments including: Lee’s Summit, Smithville, Independence, Blue Springs, Liberty, Jackson County and Johnson County Sheriffs’ departments use it, or similar “sleeper holds” curtailing blood flow. Overland Park and Lenexa Police Departments state they do not use that type of hold. KCK Police say they use a “shoulder pin” which protects the trachea and does not compress the front of the neck—and it’s only authorized for use in a lethal force confrontation.
Lenexa PD told our investigative team that, out of an abundance of caution, they have suspended use after reading President Trump’s new Executive Force order which bans chokeholds.
Neck restraints are coming under fire and some communities and countries are banning any application of force to a person’s neck in light of George Floyd’s murder.
Brief research by KCTV5 revealed the Fort Wayne, Indiana Police Department banned the technique more than a year ago after two officers were injured following a LVNR training sessions.
One officer was immediately rushed to the hospital. Another officer had a stroke.
Recent controversy over pictures
The KCMO Police Board of Commissioners recently explicitly banned chokeholds although the department maintains they do not use them. The LVNR technique was brought up under discussion.
The department showed a slide of the technique:
However, projecting the pictures through PowerPoint and then over a Facebook live feed made the pictures look darker. Some thought the pictures showed a white officer restraining a black subject. But closer inspection of the photo shows that both officers in the demonstration were white.