Friday, October 23, 2009

Don't Tase me Bro! (for fear of potential lawsuits)

Taser use became one of the hot topics in the news and for Amnesty this week. The company Taser International released a report on the 12th informing police agencies to avoid tasering suspects in the chest, neck and head. This recommendation on proper taser procedure ''has less to do with safety and more to do with effective risk management for law enforcement agencies,'' Taser International said in a statement last week.

The company still believes that tasering someone in the chest is a low risk procedure but as the Associated Press reported, the new guidelines against the practice "will make defending lawsuits easier."

While the news from Taser International is meant to quell controversy over the topic of tazing potential suspects, Amnesty International reported in 2008 that since 2001 over 350 people have died after being shocked by tasers.

you can check out the AI page on tasers from this link -

Limited research has been conducted by Taser International on the medical repercussions of using a taser against someone. This lack of evidence on the safety combined with Amnesty's research creates a troubling situation. Out of the over 350 case that AI reported, in 50 of those cases, medical examiners were able to cite a direct link between taser shocks and death.

Information is still coming in on the safety concerns of tasers. What is known:

- personal or civilian tasers are currently available to the public

-Tasers are currently used by 14,200 law enforcement agencies in the US

- 96 lawsuits have been filed against police forces that used tasers in unprovoked or unnecessary circumstances

Taser International obviously is looking to legally cover itself with the release of their new report. And this concern regarding future lawsuits and taser defense only further raises my suspicions about the actual repercussions of taser use.
Issues of police brutality and use of unnecessary force against suspects often trouble cities. Yet it seems that the use of this seemingly non-lethal devise does little to prevent the violence or the death of suspects and civilians, defying the logic that that prompted law enforcement to adopted taser 10 years ago.

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