Mayor Nancy Vaughan said that studying the use of the “Ripp Hobble” and other restraints the police use was just the kind of thing that the Greensboro Criminal Justice Advisory Commission (GCJAC) should do.

Greensboro Police Chief Wayne Scott altered the use of the Ripp Hobble by the Greensboro Police Department after it was found to be a contributing factor in the death of Marcus Deon Smith on Sept. 8.  The Ripp Hobble is a restraint that binds the ankles together and then a strap is used to tether the ankles to the handcuffs of a person in custody.

Police had placed the Ripp Hobble restraint on Smith and shortly after Smith stopped breathing. The restraint was immediately removed and Smith was transported by ambulance to Cone Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

After that incident, Scott ordered the Greensboro police not to use the Ripp Hobble except to bind a person’s ankles together and appointed a task force to investigate the best methods of restraining those in police custody.

Tom Phillips, an executive committee member of GCJAC agreed with Vaughan.  He said, “That would be the perfect kind of thing for us to investigate.  Rather than the chief setting up his own task force, he should use an organization like the Advisory Commission [GCJAC] to look at things like that.”

After months of planning the city had to get a special bill rushed through on the last day of the North Carolina Legislature in 2018 to establish GCJAC and it held its first meeting in September.

Phillips said they had been concentrating on an education program for high school students, but would welcome the chance to look into a police procedure like restraining those in custody.  He said, “There is tremendous potential for what we could do, if we can get going and they will use us.”

Phillips said that while GCJAC could decide on its own to start such an investigation, it would be better if they were asked either by the police chief or the City Council because that would get the ball rolling.  He said that so far no one had asked.

Currently GCJAC is having a problem because two members of the executive committee Irving Allen and Cherizar Crippen don’t want to sign the confidentiality agreement that is necessary for the commission to legally view confidential personnel material.