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The Journal Gazette

  • Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette Fort Wayne Police Chief Steve Reed looks on as Capt. Shane Lee speaks Friday about the use of the lateral vascular neck restraint method. At right is Capt. Juan Barrientes.

Saturday, January 19, 2019 1:00 am

FWPD unsure how 2 got injured in training

Neck technique stays suspended until probe complete

DAVE GONG | The Journal Gazette

Fort Wayne police say they don't know if two officers hospitalized this week were injured during training for a lateral vascular neck restraint technique.

Police announced Wednesday they temporarily stopped using the technique, also known as LVNR. Police Chief Steve Reed said during a news conference Friday that concerns surrounding the two officers' injuries caused him to suspend use of the technique until an investigation is completed. 

“We can certainly make a correlation to the first officer, because he did experience some kind of medical event during the training and was subsequently transported (to the hospital),” Capt. Shane Lee, the department's administrative captain, said at the news conference. “Capt. (Tom) Bandor, on the other hand, was almost 24 hours after and made no complaints during the training day that he was having any medical issues at all at that time.”

Dr. Bill Smock, police surgeon at the Louisville Metro Police Department in Kentucky, said Thursday the two men suffered injuries as a consequence of the training. Smock said he traveled to Fort Wayne to examine the men after being contacted by the Allen County prosecutor's office.

The incidents in question occurred Monday during yearly training to maintain current status with the lateral vascular neck restraint, Capt. Juan Barrientes said.

During refresher training, the officers were taken through varying levels and allowed opportunities to be coached and monitored while applying the technique, according to Barrientes.

About 1 p.m. Monday, during training on the lateral vascular neck restraint, an officer, who Lee said asked not to be identified, began to suffer from a medical issue. He was taken from the academy to a hospital and training continued.

“Everyone else that day completed the rest of defensive tactics and firearms training and CPR recertification without any further incident,” Lee said.

On Tuesday, Bandor reported for work as normal and appeared to be in good health, Lee said. After 11 a.m., Bandor fell ill as he was having lunch at a restaurant and called for an ambulance.

The unnamed officer was treated and released, but Lee did not have an update on Bandor's condition.

In an interview Thursday, a relative of Bandor told The Journal Gazette that Bandor was still in the hospital and “gets dizzy and nauseated, even if he opens his eyes.”

“It's like vertigo. He can't get up and do anything,” the relative said.

The focus of the technique is to take combative or resistive suspects into custody with minimal risk of injury to the person arrested or the officers involved, said Barrientes, the academy captain.

He stressed that the technique is not a chokehold that obstructs an airway.

“We utilize anatomy and physiology to introduce compliance measures,” Barrientes said. “The lateral vascular neck restraint, as the name implies, laterally means on the side of the neck. Vascular means we are engaging the veins and arteries that run into the side of the neck.”

Barrientes said the move is “not a choke of any kind.”

Since it was introduced, there have been more than 24,000 applications during training, Barrientes said. It has been used more than 50 times on the streets, Lee said.

“This is a technique that has been extensively built and medically tested. We've used it since 2014 and have had thousands of training applications,” Chief Reed said.

“We certainly take safety seriously and vet any information found or given to us about any type of use of force through our training academy.”