In defense of the police hold used on George Floyd
I'm not defending Derek Chauvin, the officer who restrained George Floyd, but I am defending the restraining technique he used. I've heard a lot of ignorant people condemning it without understanding.
Twenty years ago, I attended a Judo Clinic given by Steve Jimerfield, a seventh-degree black belt and an Alaska state trooper. He taught this technique during the clinic. I performed it several times and had it done to me several times. It is not brutal or violent. It is a quick, simple, and humane way to subdue and restrain an agitated person resisting arrest. From what we now know, George Floyd was in that category, and the aggressive crowd nearby caused him to be held in the position for over eight minutes.
The Jimerfield method is now a standard technique used in police departments throughout the country, but it may not be for long. It has been reported that an officer in Florida was suspended for using this technique. I fear there will be an overreaction just as there was when Eric Garner went into cardiac arrest while an officer was using a chokehold to restrain him. There was a rush to outlaw chokes, to the point where Nebraska passed a law that was so expansive that a strict interpretation could cause judokas and jujitsuists to be charged with felonies for using chokes in a dojo or a tournament.
If the Jimerfield technique is prohibited, there will be more injuries and deaths resulting from police subduing suspects resisting arrest because officers will be forced to use higher levels of violence. They will have to use tasers, nightsticks, and even firearms on those resisting arrest since more benign methods have been denied them.
Some may feel that tasering might be a better way, but I have to disagree. I haven't been tasered, but I know two people who have. Both were Air Force Academy cadets in their early twenties. They were training with a security police squadron. The sergeant in charge asked for volunteers to be tasered as a demonstration. After volunteering they were asked if they had a heart condition or high blood pressure and were told to lie down so their fall would not cause a concussion or broken bones. They described the experience as having their bodies go in uncontrollable convulsions ten times a second for almost a minute. They both agreed that if they had one thing to do differently in their cadet careers, if not their lives, it would be not to have volunteered to be tasered. I would much rather have the Jimmerfield technique done to me.
What happened to George Floyd was probably an occurrence with 1-in-10,000 odds, if not lower. I'm sure there will be those who say, "If banning this method saves one life, it is worth it." But is it worth it if banning it will cost hundreds of lives and thousands more injuries?
Matt Simmons is a godan (fifth-degree black belt) in judo.
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