Police chokeholds discussed at Monday’s Sylvester City Council meeting

Police chokeholds discussed at Monday’s Sylvester City Council meeting

SYLVESTER, Ga. (WALB) - Sylvester City leaders closed the discussion on chokeholds within in the Sylvester Police Department after hearing from the police chief.

It was brought up during Monday night’s regularly scheduled council meeting.

“We want them (police) to be more knowledgeable about how and when to use it,” said the newly sworn-in mayor, Charles Jones.

Sylvester City Council members had concerns and questions about when chokeholds are being used within the Sylvester Police Department. They wanted to make sure the force used is equal to the crime and that chokeholds are not used unnecessarily.

They put the topic on Monday night’s agenda in response to nationwide unrest against police departments.

Council members have faith that Sylvester Police Chief Shawn Urquhart is training her force correctly.

Urquhart is just under a year on the job and the first woman to hold the position. She said there is no direct policy on chokeholds at the Sylvester Police Department, but it falls underneath their policy about use of force.

“We preach to the guys about liability. That’s part of any job,” Urquhart said as she addressed the city council.

She believes the chokehold technique needs to stay on the force, however, the controversial move is only used in life or death situations.

“Because you still want to be able to defend yourself because I don’t want them, police officers to get in a situation where they’re afraid to do their job or save themselves if a situation occurs where they’re thinking about liability,” said Urquhart.

Chief Urquhart said shifts hold meetings daily to discuss different topics like use of force.

Council members originally said they thought about writing up an ordinance to ban the move from the Sylvester Police Department. However, after hearing from Chief Urquhart Monday night, they decided to close the discussion on the matter.

Council members said no further action will be taken.

Also during Monday’s meeting:

Sylvester Mayor Sworn In

Before the meeting started, the new mayor of the City of Sylvester was sworn in.

Charles Jones was officially sworn in during Monday’s council meeting.

Jones is formally the councilman of Ward 3. He resigned late last year to run for Mayor of Sylvester.

Monday night he raised his right hand, laid his left hand on a Bible and gave his promise to put Sylvester and it’s people first.

“That I will properly perform the duties of the office of mayor in and for the City of Sylvester,” repeated Jones during his swearing-in.

Mayor Charles Jones
Mayor Charles Jones (Source: WALB)

Larry Johnson has been mayor pro tem since last fall after Bill Yearta stepped down. Yearta did so to run for the House District 152 seat.

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