Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Dump The Tasers

Let me be clear; I support a well trained police force.  The laws don't enforce themselves and I think the police need the appropriate tools to do their jobs.  Advances in information technology have been a huge help to them.  Tasers, on the other hand, are a different story.  I don't dispute the need for the police to have non-lethal weapons at hand.  However, how those weapons are used matters a great deal.  There have been stories in the past about tasers being used inappropriately, and this latest example is almost beyond belief.

Citizens should be secure in their own homes.  When the police make an appearance it is not too much to expect them to get the facts before acting.  In this instance, we have a homeowner seated on his couch after being helped by paramedics into his house after falling.  Note his torn pants.  He doesn't appear to be armed.  He makes an offhand remark and the officers decide to take him in to a psych ward.  He objects, refuses to go and bingo!  Out comes the taser!  Talk about poor judgement.  One is forced to ask; what if the officers did not have a taser in hand?  Would they have threatened him with deadly force or would they simply wrestle him to the ground?

If it were up to me, I'd sue the pants off the officer for abuse and take on the department for their failure to appropriately screen and train their officers.  Any settlement would have to include remedial training for every officer on the force and an assessment of their ability to exercise reasonable judgement.  Some one will no doubt argue with me about the judgement call, however consider this: is the availability of a non-lethal weapon substituting for dialogue and more effort to determine the appropriate approach?  In this instant-on, 24/7 world that has little use for delays of any sort are our officers spending less time getting to the bottom of a situation because they have tools that renders a person physically helpless?

Tasers are not lethal weapons, and that fact alone may lull some people into a false sense of power because the result is not usually a wounded or dead person.  It is time to dump the tasers. Whatever usefulness they may have is being rendered irrelevant by intemperate use on the part of immature, ill trained officers.

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