A Message from the Director

Published:  December 13, 2019

Dear Community Partners: 

In the wake of the recent tragedy resulting in David Ward’s death, our community is experiencing feelings of despair and rage and there are a lot of questions about what comes next. 

For IOLERO’s part, the administrative investigation is underway at the Sheriff’s Office and it will be forwarded to IOLERO for review and audit.  Over the past few months, the Sheriff’s Office has accepted several of the policy recommendations I made based on audits and I am working to continue that type of progress and evidenced-based policy change through the audit process.  

I had a lengthy meeting with the Sheriff on Monday, December 9.  I requested that the Sheriff’s Office institute a temporary ban of the carotid restraint pending research on the carotid restraint and completion of the investigation into the death of Mr. Ward.  The Sheriff did not agree to suspend the use of the carotid restraint.  However, the Sheriff’s Office will be providing me with direct access to their data on the carotid restraint and how often it is used by deputies. 

Earlier this month, the CAC presented their use-of-force recommendations to the Sheriff’s Office.  Those recommendations included the following, "Carotid restraints and other dangerous chokeholds and maximum restraints are banned."  This  recommendation by the CAC was a good first step.  The next step is to add persuasive evidence and research to support the recommendation.  The incoming CAC will be assigned the task of conducting research into the carotid restraint and investigating the following questions:

  1. How often is the carotid restraint used in Sonoma County and also how often is it used in other jurisdictions?  
  2. In what situations is the carotid restraint used in Sonoma County and other jurisdictions?
  3. Is the carotid restraint banned in other jurisdictions?  If so, was it replaced with an alternative restraint technique?
  4. In jurisdictions in which the carotid restraint is banned, did the ban of the carotid restraint result in an increase in injuries to law enforcement officers?  
  5. In jurisdictions in which the carotid restraint is banned, did the ban of the carotid restraint result in an increase in civilian injuries as a result of officers using other methods of restraint/compliance such as an increase in the use of tasers or an increase in other types of holds? 

This is just a preliminary list of questions that need to be answered and addressed prior to presenting a final, persuasive and evidence-based recommendation to the Sheriff's Office. As the CAC investigates and does additional research more questions may arise. 

The next CAC meeting is already scheduled at the Guerneville Library on Monday, February 3 from  6:00-7:30 PM.  The meeting is posted on IOLERO’s website. I will be finalizing appointments to the CAC prior to the February meeting.    

Karlene M. Navarro, Esq., Director
The Independent Office of Law Enforcement
Review and Outreach (IOLERO)
2300 A County Center Dr., Suite A211
Santa Rosa, CA 95403
(707) 565-1534

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Independent Office of Law Enforcement Review and Outreach

County of Sonoma

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Santa Rosa, CA 95403
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