HOUSTON – During the funeral for Houston-native George Floyd Tuesday, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner promised an executive order that would ban chokeholds and stranglehold in the city and other police reforms.
“What that order will say is that in this city, we will ban chokeholds and strangleholds. In this city, we will require de-escalation. In this city, you have to give a warning before you shoot. In this city, you have a duty to intervene," he said.
On Wednesday, he signed the executive order and said it was in response to the demands of protesters and demonstrators. He also said five African American members of Houston City Council had sent him a letter last week asking for prompt action.
“I want to say thank you on behalf of 5300 police officers,” said Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo at the press conference Wednesday. “This is a huge day because you are building trust and building legitimacy and breaking down even the perception of bad policing. When we have these good policies, we build trust, and when we have trust, we build better communities.”
While Turner acknowledged that many of the provisions of the executive order were already in practice by the Houston Police Department, the order “codifies prohibited techniques,” for the first time, according to a city press release.
KPRC 2 obtained a copy of Executive Order 1-67. Here is a breakdown of what his executive order will do:
Response to resistance
Law enforcement officers will only be allowed to use an amount of force that is “objectively reasonable” to successfully protect themselves and others during an arrest or while dealing with members of the community, suspects or prisoners, “even if under the circumstances applicable law would allow the use of greater force.”
- Officers must use de-escalation techniques to “gain voluntary compliance” and avoid or minimize the use of physical force. The order also requires the Houston Police Department to continuously develop, update and train officers in de-escalation techniques.
- Officers have to make it clear that they intend to arrest or search someone before using force, “unless the officer has an objectively reasonable belief that this information is already known by the subject or it is impractical to do so.”
Use of deadly force
- Before an officer resorts to the use of deadly force, they must make every effort to de-escalate the situation and exhaust every other reasonably available alternative (like using verbal warnings)
- If the use of deadly force by firearm is unavoidable, the officer has to have an “objectively reasonable belief that the use of deadly force is necessary to protect the officer or others from imminent serious bodily injury or death.”
- All uses of deadly force by a police officer must be reported to the Independent Police Oversight Board
Shooting at moving vehicles
An officer is prohibited from firing a firearm or soft-impact weapon at a moving vehicle unless it is “objectively necessary to protect the officer or others from imminent serious bodily injury or death."
- Officers are prohibited from using neck restraints or cartoid artery holds (also known as chokeholds), either with an object or body part, unless "the officer has an objectively reasonable belief that it is necessary to prevent imminent serious bodily harm to the officer or others.
- Officers are prohibited from placing their knee, foot or body weight on the neck or a suspect to control their movements
- No-knock warrants are prohibited unless they are signed off on by the chief of police or their designee and the warrant has been signed off on by a district judge
- Only HPD’s Special Weapons and Tactics Detail division will serve no-knock warrants unless the chief of police signs off in writing to state the otherwise
- All officers involved in executing a no-knock warrant must wear body cameras
Duty to intercede
- If a police officer sees another officer using force that beyond what is reasonable under the circumstances, they are duty-bound to intercede and prevent that use of force.
- They also must immediately report the use of such force to an on-duty supervisor
Read the full Executive Order 1-67 below: