Friday, November 16, 2007

Why do police love their tasers so much?

Many things have been said about the latest Taser killing of Robert Dziekanski at the Vancouver airport. But why is it that the police keeps trying to convince us that the use of the Taser is safe, and that they need the weapon?

Amnesty International has an interesting take on the issue:

Amnesty International has serious concerns about the use of electro-shock devices in general, both in terms of their safety and their potential for misuse. Portable and easy to use, with the capacity to inflict severe pain at the push of a button without leaving substantial marks, electro-shock weapons are particularly open to abuse. Amnesty International has documented numerous cases of serious abuses involving electro-shock weapons around the world.
I'm sure Amnesty added the latest case.

Why do you think the police love their Tasers so much? Anyone who has an answer, please leave a comment.

- Owen Sound Sun Times: City police stand behind Tasers
- CBC: Ottawa police zap officer with Taser to show device's safety
- Amnesty International Canada: Amnesty International's concerns about Tasers
- Amnesty International USA: Amnesty International's continuing concerns about Tasers (pdf)

9 comments:

ScruffyDan said...

apparently it's even worse in the UK

"A man who had gone into a diabetic coma on a bus in Leeds was shot twice with a Taser gun by police who feared he may have been a security threat."
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/west_yorkshire/7096456.stm

Chet Scoville said...

I think that, first of all, the Taser comes with a mythology surrounding it, i.e., that it is a non-lethal weapon (There is, of course, no such thing: any weapon can be lethal and ought to be treated as such).

Second, you've said it yourself: the Taser is easy. It's easier than almost anything else, including talking.

And third, it's essentially a mini-torture device, inflicting severe pain for the purpose of making people comply. Torture, sadly, is popular these days. And there seems to be nothing else like being a torturer to give people a rush of power.

O_T said...

I'm just curious as to how many more deaths from an obvious lethal weapon are we going to have to witness before these knucklehead's outlaw the damn things. Just reading where a 20 year old was killed today somewhere in the U.S. by a Taser.
Most police, lets face it, have extreme ego problems and do enjoy inflicting pain. I can bear witness to that fact, although back then, all they had were clubs, and fists.
What the Taser has done for law enforcement is essentially this. Instead of 12 of them beating their "suspect" half to death, they can now electrocute them johnny on the spot. As a little boy growing up in Suburban L.A. I always thought of the police as the stereotypical protection figure. Later in life I came to realize that the majority thrive off of delivering physical abuse.
And that's a fact.

Erik said...

Thanks o_t,

I think Blogzone3 has says it well in his post
Has the taser become a substitute for good policing?
:

For those who have seen the video, you can clearly hear one of the RCMP officers asking his superior as they walk toward the man if he can taser him and the answer is yes.

Note that this was before they had even gotten close enough to Robert Dziekanski to have any idea what was going on with him. Apparently, they had decided to taser him first and then ask questions later.

Does anyone else see anything wrong with this approach?

Was any attempt to calm down Robert Dziekanski with simple talk and a lack of aggressive behavior on the part of the RCMP?

Aren’t police officers trained to take people down by sheer physical force?

Would it not be reasonable to assume that if he was in a secure area of the airport that he was not carrying a weapon?

Why then would they resort to a taser as an apparent weapon of first choice?

Anonymous said...

This is unbelievable. I cannot comprehend this, I do not know how ANY sane person cannot see what I see. I am not a doctor but I will tell you that any person who is elderly, in poor health, under the influence of drugs (both legal and illegal) will DIE if they are tasered. This is just common sense. When are we going to start to see an end to this maddness and place a permanent ban on this death device?

Jeannette said...

Hey Ken S.,

What did cops do before they had tasers? I'd be interested in hearing your reply, as you act as though tasers, a very new weapon, have always been integral to police work.

Erik said...

Jeanette, I'm sorry for letting through this (boring) troll. I've deleted his post now.

"The certainty of hundreds dying per day"?

Is he on drugs, or what?

Anonymous said...

I have carried a taser for four years but have never needed to deployed it once. I acknowledge it is a useful device when used properly but I don't "love it". It is a tool. Whenever possible I have indeed "talked people down". To say that "Most police...have extreme ego problems and do enjoy inflicting pain" is about as ridiculous as saying "all bleeding heart liberals, sensationalistic media, and hippies enjoy vilifying police". It might feel good to say, but it doesn't get us anywhere now does it? Society needs the police just as police need objective observers. To make conclusions about tens of thousands of police officers based on a few incidents is not sound reasoning. It's demoralizing to our police and to our country. Terms like "death device" is inflammatory language. Tasers have been used on thousands of occasions and have prevented injury to suspects and the police. Ironically, I've seen video footage of people tasered who were elderly, or in poor health, or under the influence of drugs during various negotiation situations and they, in fact, did not die. Your common sense has betrayed you. If what you're saying is that more information is needed on the effects of the taser and that police taser policy must be strictly followed, well, I would have a tough time disagreeing with that. Have a nice day.

Eric said...

To the anonymous police officer, thank you for sharing.

I do have some problems with your comment though.

1) It would have been fair to everyone to distinguish between who said what. It wasn't ME who said the things you are referring to, but some anonymous bloggers.

2) If you had the guts to leave your own name (instead of anonymous) your statement could have had more credibility. Now you're just another anonymous blogger....Nevertheless:

3) you state that "Tasers have [...] prevented injury to suspects and the police" but without coming up with any evidence. Why should we believe you?

On the other hand there are plenty of cases where a Taser HAS caused serious injuries, some resulting in deaths. Why don't you bring those deaths up in your comment? Why do you feel the need to only talk about the positive side when it comes to the Taser? Are you being paid by Taser as well, or is it only one of your Chiefs?

4) Your "I've seen video footage of people tasered who were elderly, or in poor health, or under the influence of drugs during various negotiation situations and they, in fact, did not die" isn't "common sense" either. The fact of the matter is that many have died after being Tasered, and many times the condition of the deceased in combination with the use of Taser were given as reasons for the death.

It's time we (the people) start doing something about this, because by now it's clear that we don't have to expect anything from the Canadian police forces, indeed those paid by Taser; neither one does take the "Deaths by Taser" serious, for reasons obvious to everyone.

In short, mister anonymous policeman, you should be ashamed of yourself. I'm sure it's a lot more lucrative to put in a good word for Taser than to stand up for those who lost their loved ones after the use of that deadly "tool". But it doesn't make a good police officer, on the contrary.

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