July 12, 2008


The use of tasers has climed up and up since they were introduced.

Tasers were meant to reduce shooting in the use-of-force heirarchy. Use of force has the following steps:

Verbal Warning
Use of nightstick or other physical means
Lethal force

Tasers were meant to come before lethal force. Currently, however, they seem to have replaced the nightstick. I suppose that the kind of officer who used to beat the crap out of a smart aleck is the kind of officer who now tases someone that offends him. And in a lot of cases, the taser has just plain replaced hands-on for subduing someone. It has not replaced lethal force -- instead it has replaced step three in the use of force.

Not good.

It would be nice if commanders noticed this trend and trained against the use of tasers in place of nightsticks and cuffs. It would also be good if anyone who used a taser on a cuffed prisoner were suspended for a month or two, just to reinforce the message that tasers are too close to lethal force to use casually.

Posted by Scorpio at July 12, 2008 07:18 AM | | Technorati links |

It's actually worse than that. In many cases, they've replaced part of the verbal stuff — in particular, the negotiation that often goes with "warning".

A cop who thinks that commands and obedience are all it's about loves the Taser for that, but it's an abuse of power and a degradation in police work. If, for instance, someone sits on the ground and refuses to move... before, the officer would order him to stand up, cajole him to stand up, reason with him. Eventually, if he wouldn't stand, another officer would come help, and they'd drag the guy away, whether he complied or not.

Now, that's often cut short. The officer orders him to stand up. If he doesn't, he's tortured with a Taser until he does -- or until he senseless and incapable of compliance, at which point another officer helps to drag him away.

This is not a change for the better.

Posted by: Barry Leiba at July 12, 2008 08:19 AM

Great, you volunteer to be first to tag Perpie the Pimp. Oh, he/she is 140 kilos and 2 metres tall. Solid muscle and drugged. You first.

Subduing any perp is risky. Tasers remove my saggy old @ss from getting hurt or damaged. If Perpie dies, oh well. Get this straight. I'm going home at the end of my shift. I don't get paid to die for some theory concocted by a WhiteSafetyZone dwelling noodle.

By the by, you obviously never used a baton on a perp. Does a number on soft tissue, bone, and mental processing.

Posted by: Mold at July 12, 2008 11:47 AM

... they've replaced part of the verbal stuff in particular, the negotiation that often goes with "warning".

There is no "negotiation," unless you are dealing with a hostage taker or barricaded suspect. One definition of the police function (I'm doing this from memory 20 years out) is an "arm of the state empowered with the use of non-negotiable, coercive lethal force in accordance with situational exigencies (discretion)." On the other hand, discretion and police style and personal technique do come into play. But that is the old days and old school, and as Mold points out, the dangers have increased. Many cops do fear the bite from a suspect with a HIV so the stand off techniques do appeal to them. Non-lethal tech is still a far sight better than the alternative.

Posted by: LWM at July 14, 2008 02:46 PM