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Commissioner: BPD does not encourage chokeholds

Boston Police Commissioner William Evans says the department does not encourage chokeNicolaus Czarnecki/Boston

(State House News Service) -- Boston Police recently rewrote department policies governing the use of chokehold techniques while apprehending suspects.

Boston Police Commissioner William Evans said in a TV interview Sunday that officers had used chokeholds in cases involving suspects who put drugs in their mouths while being apprehended.

"We've changed our policies on chokeholds and obviously it's something we don't encourage whatsoever," Evans told Jon Keller of WBZ on Sunday morning.

The videotaped death of Eric Garner on Staten Island, an unarmed man brought down by several officers including one who used a chokehold, has sparked protests nationwide after a grand jury declined to bring an indictment against the officer who used the chokehold.

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"A lot of people are troubled by what they've seen on the camera," Evans said. "It's several officers taking that suspect down. All I can say is I'm sure the officers didn?t intend to kill that poor man."

Boston police make many arrests that are "not on TV" and use "quite a bit of restraint," he said. He called the Garner video "very disturbing," saying "without a doubt" there may be a disciplinary case, noting New York Police Commissioner William Bratton is looking into it. Boston Mayor Martin Walsh and Evans are examining the feasibility of outfitting officers with body cameras, but Evans fears that move may erode the trust and respect that officers have built with city residents.

Cameras, he said, may hinder people from cooperating with police and providing information that could help take guns or drugs off the streets and make life safer for everyone. "I know the protest is all about 'black lives matter,' " Evans said. "Jon, let me tell ya, every life matters to the Boston Police Department. We're out there every night trying to make the city safe."

 
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