Neck Restraints,
Chokes And Strangles

In Canada it is illegal for Police or Correctional Services Officers to use neck restraints, chokes, strangles or vascular restraints. This is our law under the Police and Correctional Services Acts. Many falsely believe that this means that no one can use these techniques in Canada.

This is simply not true! These officers, according to their own governing bodies, have been given specialized training and equipment that render their use of neck restraints unnecessary and unwise. While I personally disagree, particularly for undercover and 'off duty' officers, these are the laws of our land currently and all police or correctional officers must live by them. These laws do not directly affect anyone other than these officers.

Under the Criminal Code Of Canada "Anyone" may use as much force as necessary to protect themselves or others. That includes using any type of neck restraint. Thus "Anyone" may do so unless they fall under specific restrictions such as these officers or others with special legal restrictions.

However I do believe that anyone involved in the professional application of force would be ill advised to use any of these techniques unless facing a life or death situation. Why? Because the investigating police officers, who are not allowed to use this type of subject control, are more likely to consider it (wrongly) illegal for you or, more likely, still excessive. You do not want to have to wait to go through being charged and imprisoned before getting to court to sort these legalities out!

Still doubt you can legally employ these tactics? Have you watched or participated in any Canadian Judo, Ju Jutsu or M.M.A. matches lately? They use these techniques to gain tap outs and knockouts all the time. If these methods were illegal in the country then, of course, they would be illegal in sports played in this country!

If They Work So Well
Why Can't The Police Use Them

The primary reason that police and correctional services moved away from using these techniques was because each year in Canada, an average of 7-12 people died as a result of their application from trained officers. The reasons for this were as varied as the subjects and circumstances involved. Sometimes, it became a case of the terrain causing a fall while the restraint was on, so what was meant to be a control on impact became deadly.

Mostly, it was because many of the subject's dealt with, abused drugs and alcohol. In simple terms, when they do this, the area of the cartoid sinus becomes prone to swelling and bruising, so you'd apply a perfectly legitimate and well applied restraint which might or might not result in the subject losing consciousness. 15-20 minutes later the unseen swelling within the neck was sufficient to cause the subject to become drowsy. If this was not caught and medical intervention not given, the subject would simply lay down and go to sleep, but this was a sleep from which they would never awaken.

The swollen cartoid sinuses would again restrict the blood flow to the brain and death would ultimately occur.

So, why then is it "safe" to do these techniques in our various sports? The answer quite simply is that most of our athletes are not guilty of excessive abuse of drugs and alcohol, especially cocaine and hard liquor, the two most common contributors to this problem. The trouble arises in that when you take these "tools" out of the defensive tactics arsenal, they were generally used for people who were non respondent to even extreme pain. These were the guys you could pepper spray or deliver an absolute beating with a steel baton and they just kept coming. Especially people who were high on drugs.

But apply a neck restraint, restrict the blood flow to the brain and they would either comply or be rendered unconscious. For the majority of instances, this proved to be a very viable option. Certainly a better option than a deliberate application of lethal force. The percentage of subjects who suffered a fatality from all this was small overall. Politically however, 7-12 deaths a year across the country was deemed unacceptable.

So then to recap, police and correctional officers can not use neck restraints, chokes, strangles or vascular restraints. Anyone not under their restrictions can, but the exercise of sound judgement and the discretionary application of these techniques cannot be stressed enough.

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