Chief Commissioner De Witte about controversial chokehold: “There are other methods to control someone”

POSTED: 08/6/15 6:58 PM


St. Maarten – Dutch activist Frank van der Linde is going to court on September 9 in an effort to force a ban on the police choke hold, used to subdue people resisting arrest. Aruban holidaymaker Mitch Henriquez may have been killed by a chokehold when a group of police officers arrested him last month in The Hague. There was another potentially chokehold-related death in 2013.

Chief Commissioner Peter de Witte says however that the discussion in the Netherlands is rather odd, because it creates the impression that police officers use the chokehold as their first option during an arrest.

The use of this controversial method of restraint is currently under investigation in the Netherlands but the report will not be completed until 2016. In the meantime, the justice ministry says police can continue to use the chokehold.

“Enough people have already died because of chokeholds,” Van der Linde said on his website. “Even New York city police have stopped using it.” He claims to have been the victim of a chokehold when he was arrested at a manifestation in 2014.

Lawyer Willem Jebbink says the ministry’s decision is incomprehensible. “A chokehold is exactly the sort of technique you should use if you want to strangle someone,” he said. “The police have more than enough violent ways to take people they have arrested into custody. Handcuffs, baton, pepper spray – you name it.”

Chief Commissioner De Witte says that there are other methods to control someone during an arrest. “Judo is for instance part of the basic training for police officers. Only if someone resists arrest other techniques become an option. The point is that you want to bring someone under control, and the chokehold is not a technique you begin with. That could happen in the heat of the action, but it is not something police officers begin with.”

In May, there was an incident in the upstairs courtroom at the courthouse in Philipsburg when a defendant attacked a witness and thumped him in the face. Within seconds police officers were on top of the attacker and they managed to subdue him – without using a chokehold.

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