Tuesday, March 24, 2009

What is your departments taser policy

3/25/09 By Terry Bankert
Posted first to Blogging for Michigan

British headlines today read "Tasers: Death of 15-year-old in USA reinforces need for caution in wider rollout of weapon."[4]

Some call Tasers a deadly weapon, this is why.

My point is to cause public policy discussions on the use of Tasers. The policy the guided the police actions in Bay City. The police actions that resulted in the death of a child.

A video Commentary.

Tasers are inherently open to abuse and are not as safe as the industry would suggest, said Amnesty International today as it reiterated its call to the UK government to limit deployment of the weapon to life-threatening situations and to a small number of specialist officers who receive rigorous training.[5]

Key Facts:
Over 7,000 law enforcement
• agencies employ more than 140,000 Tasers in
the United States
• In a 6-year period, Amnesty International
reports over 290 deaths from police
Taser usage in the USA and Canada
• Use-of-force policies provide guidance
for police officers to follow during specific
• Two Department of Homeland Security
divisions rejected its use altogether[6]


A Taser is an electroshock weapon that uses electrical current to disrupt voluntary control of muscles. Its manufacturer, Taser International, calls the effects "neuromuscular incapacitation"and device's mechanism "Electro-Muscular Disruption (EMD) technology"
Someone struck by a Taser experiences stimulation of his or her sensory nerves and motor nerves resulting in strong involuntary muscle contractions. Tasers do not rely on pain compliance, and are thus preferred by some law enforcement over non-Taser stun guns and other electronic control weapons.

Currently there are two main police models, the M26 and X26. Both come with various accessories, including a laser sight and mounted digital video camera that can record in low-light situations. Taser International is also marketing a civilian model called the C2.

Tasers were introduced as less-lethal weapons to be used by police to subdue fleeing, belligerent, or potentially dangerous subjects, often when what they consider to be a more lethal weapon would have otherwise been used. The use of Tasers has become controversial following instances of Taser use which have resulted in serious injury and death.[7]

The Taser fires two small dart-like electrodes, which stay connected to the main unit by conductive wire as they are propelled by small compressed nitrogen charges similar to some air gun or paintball marker propellants. The air cartridge contains a pair of electrodes and propellant for a single shot and is replaced after each use. There are a number of cartridges designated by range, with the maximum at 35 feet (10.6 m)[7].

Cartridges available to non-law enforcement consumers are limited to 15 feet (4.5 m).The electrodes are pointed to penetrate clothing and barbed to prevent removal once in place. Earlier Taser models required the electrodes' barbs to penetrate the skin, but newer versions (X26, C2) use a "shaped pulse" that increases effectiveness in the presence of barriers.[citation needed] Early models had difficulty in penetrating thick clothing, but the 'pulse' models are designed to bring down a subject wearing up to a Level III body armor vest.[7]

Some Taser models, particularly those used by police departments, also have a "Drive Stun" capability, where the Taser is held against the target without firing the projectiles, and is intended to cause pain without incapacitating the target. Taser defines "Drive Stun" as "the process of using the EMD weapon [Taser] as a pain compliance technique. This is done by activating the EMD and placing it against an individual’s body. This can be done without an air cartridge in place or after an air cartridge has been deployed."[7]

A Las Vegas police document says "The Drive Stun causes significant localized pain in the area touched by the Taser, but does not have a significant effect on the central nervous system. The Drive Stun does not incapacitate a subject but may assist in taking a subject into custody."[17]

"Drive Stun" was used in the UCLA Taser incident and the University of Florida Taser incident. It is also known as "dry tasing", "contact tasing", or "drive tasing".[7]


A revised RCMP policy that restricts how officers can use Tasers recognizes the stun guns can cause death, especially when fired on "acutely agitated" individuals, the head of the Mounties said Thursday.[1]

RCMP Commissioner William Elliott told a House of Commons public safety committee in Ottawa that the force introduced the policy on conductive energy weapons, or CEWs, to officers in June 2008.[1]

"The RCMP's revised CEW policy underscores that there are risks associated with the deployment of the device and emphasizes that those risks include the risk of death, particularly for acutely agitated individuals," Elliott told the committee.[1]

Under the amended policy, an officer is only permitted to use a stun gun if he or she is in physical danger or the public is in danger.[1]

It means Mounties can no longer shock people who are simply "actively resistant" to officers' orders, the commissioner said.[1]

"We've now made it very clear that the only time the use of a Taser can be justified is where there is a threat, either to our officers or members of the public," he told reporters after his appearance before the committee.[1]

'The Taser is clearly a dangerous weapon and should only be used in very limited circumstances where strictly necessary to protect life or avoid very serious injuries. It must be kept in the hands of a small number of highly trained specialist officers.' [5]

In at least six of the cases where people died, Tasers were used on individuals suffering from medical conditions such as seizures. [5]

One doctor who had crashed his car when he suffered an epileptic seizure, died after being repeatedly shocked at the side of the highway when, dazed and confused, he failed to comply with an officer's commands.[5]

Police officers in USA have also used Tasers on schoolchildren, pregnant women and even an elderly person with dementia. [5]

In March 2008, an 11-year-old girl with a learning disability was shocked with a Taser after becoming disruptive at school.[5]

Existing studies - many of them funded by the industry - have found the risk of these weapons to be generally low in healthy adults. However, these studies are limited in scope and have pointed to the need for more understanding of the effects of such devices on vulnerable people, including those under the influence of stimulant drugs or in poor health. [5]

Recent independently-funded animal studies have found that the use of these kinds of electro-shock weapons can cause fatal arrhythmias in pigs, raising further questions about their safety on human subjects. [5]

Second minor to die after being shocked by a Taser this year[4]The death of a 15-year-old boy in Michigan, USA after he was shocked with a Taser gun reinforces the need for greater caution to be applied in the roll out of Tasers to frontline police officers in the UK, said Amnesty International.[4]

The organisation also called for further tests into the safety of the electro-shock weapon.[4]

While few details are available, a police news release stated that the 15-year-old boy - who has not been named - was shocked when he 'attempted to fight' Bay City officers responding to reports of an argument between two males in an apartment. The boy is reported to have been unarmed.[4]

The boy reportedly went into medical distress immediately after being shocked and was pronounced dead in hospital.[4]Amnesty International UK's Arms Programme Director, Oliver Sprague said:'Tasers should only be used in life-threatening situations and this doesn't appear to be such an instance. Surely another form of restraint could have been applied in this case.[4]

'The tragic death of this teenager is a grave reminder that extreme caution has to be applied when Tasers are being used. Only a limited number of officers who undergo intensive, ongoing and rigorous training should be given these weapons.' [4]

According to information gathered by Amnesty International, this is the second minor to have died in the USA this year after being shocked with a Taser. In January, an unarmed 17-year-old boy in Virginia died after police, responding to a minor street incident, shocked him in his apartment.[4]

Since June 2001, the total number of deaths after the use of Taser guns in the US has risen to 351.[4]

A pilot program to enlarge Taser deployment in London pilot has caused a storm of international controversy surrounding the use of the Tasers. In October a Polish man died after being shot with a Taser by police officials as he waited to meet his mother in an airport in Vancouver, Canada. And just last month, a report published by the UN Committee Against Torture described the impact of the Taser weapon as 'provoking extreme pain, constituted a form of torture and that in certain cases it could also cause death.' UN office at Geneva press release, 23 November 2007[2]

The RCMP has more than 1,100 Tasers in use by more than 3,000 officers. In the wake of several high-profile incidents involving Tasers, critics and the RCMP's civilian watchdog accused the Mounties of relying on the weapons too much in policing and firing them on people who pose no threat.[1]

Arizona-based Taser International, which makes virtually all the stun guns currently being used by police forces, has said its products — which are intended to incapacitate people with an electric shock — have a higher safety margin than Tylenol.[1]

Elliott told reporters Thursday that stun guns are a "serious use of force," but added he believes the weapons are "far, far less lethal and far, far less dangerous" than conventional firearms, based on the experience of his force, other police agencies and available scientific data.[1]

Not everyone agrees.Amnesty International today (7 December) expressed concern at the ongoing pilot initiative for wider deployment of Taser stun guns being carried out by the Home Office, as London's Metropolitan Police prepare to enter the scheme despite strong reservations by the Metropolitan Police Authority. [2]

"I do not think there is any evidence that Tasers kill but certainly we have had some incidents where shortly after a Taser was deployed individuals died," Elliott said, "and certainly there is a distinct possibility that the deployment of the Taser and the experience generally contributed to the individual's death."[1]

The Mounties haven't spoken to the supplier about what the force's policy should be, he said.[1]

In January, the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP, a civilian oversight body, announced it would investigate every case in which a person died after being jolted by an RCMP Taser.[1]

Paul Kennedy, the commission's head, said the probe would cover about 10 deaths, but the exact number of cases to be examined had yet to be determined because the commission lacked a precise count.[1]

Change brought in last year, commissioner says [1]

Elliott dismissed suggestions by members of the committee that the force had delayed informing politicians and the public about the new policy.[1]

"I think that the media certainly has been advised on numerous occasions over the last several months with respect to the changes that we were adopting," he said.[1]

He noted Parliament has been suspended twice since the policy was introduced, preventing him from briefing MPs on the changes.[1]

"There was no committee for us to provide the update to," he said.[1]

The old policy instructed police to follow the standard use-of-force framework, which outlines when certain approaches are warranted. In the past, RCMP officials have said the policy meant an officer could use his or her own discretion to decide when to deploy a Taser.[1]

"I certainly think that there are incidents that, if they occurred today, a Taser will not be used, where if they occurred some months ago, a Taser would be used," Elliott said.[1]

No cause for concern, MPs told [1]

Elliott also said 60 RCMP stun guns have been tested since the CBC and Radio-Canada reported in December that an independent test of Tasers manufactured before 2005 found some of the devices produced a higher level of electricity than the manufacturer promises.[1]

Of the 41 Tasers tested by a U.S. laboratory commissioned by the broadcasters, four delivered significantly more current than Taser International says is possible. In some cases, the current was as much as 50 per cent stronger than specified on the devices.[1]

Elliott said the force's own independent tests have so far turned up no cause for concern, but he would keep MPs informed as testing continued.[1]

In response to the CBC/Radio-Canada report, Taser International said the U.S. laboratory tests commissioned by the broadcasters are "flawed."[1]

The Canadian Medical Association has raised concerns in the past about police departments relying on the manufacturer's claims of safety, and has called on police departments to open their databases to researchers. [1]

Amnesty International believes that Tasers can only be used if:
Tasers are only used as an alternative to lethal force where situation presents an immediate threat of death or serious injury to officers or others [2]

Officers carrying Tasers are trained to firearms standards on an ongoing basis [2]

Roll-out is highly restricted and then only to specially trained officers [2]

The Home Office has demonstrated how the use of Tasers will be consistent with its obligations under international human rights guidelines and has demonstrated what policies and procedures are in place to prevent misuse of electro-shock weapons. [2]

As far as Amnesty International is aware, none of these things has been spelt out and therefore Amnesty continues to oppose widespread deployment beyond the current policy of deployment by Specialist Firearms Officers. [2]

Taser stun guns are potentially lethal electrical weapons. The pistol-shaped weapon delivers 50,000 volts of electricity into a person's body. The result is excruciatingly painful, causing a person to fall to the ground and, at times, lose control of their bodily functions. [2]

'It's a dangerous world out there'[1]

RCMP officers are still required to report each stun gun firing or threat to fire, as well as to justify the use as a reasonable and necessary response to a threat to an officer or to public safety, he noted. [1]

The force is committed to submitting quarterly and annual reports on Taser use incidents, the commissioner said.[1]

The commissioner also said officers will now refresh stun gun training each year instead of every two years, but the RCMP did not adopt the all-party committee's call to reclassify the stun gun as an impact weapon.[1]

Elliott said that's because it's already considered a prohibited firearm with clear policy restrictions for its use. He said the contentious weapons save lives.[1]

"It's a dangerous world out there, and our officers are called upon to respond to situations involving threat with alarming regularity," he said.[1]

Police use of Tasers has generated intense public concern after Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski died at Vancouver International Airport more than a year ago. An RCMP officer shot him with a Taser shortly before his death.[1]

British Columbia called an inquiry that has also been looking at the use of Tasers and the circumstances surrounding Dziekanski's death.[1]


Current placement of Tasers as an acceptable response on the use-of-force
continuum varies by agency. The use-of-force continuum has five levels, ranging
from ‘Strategic’ situations, in which the officer may use such responses as
cooperative controls, to ‘Lethal’ situations, where response includes deadly
force. Universally elevating Taser usage to the "Harmful" level on the Use-of-Force
Continuum narrows the circumstances of use, decreasing frequency of Taser
deployments. This effectively lowers risk of injury or death. (Refer to figure in
endnotes) Elevated circumstances will placate community fear of abusive Taser
use. Community perception can change if citizens view Tasers only being used in
dangerous situations. In this manner, Taser usage can be seen as a positive, lesslethal
alternative to a firearm or impact weapon, i.e. baton or nightstick.[6]

Posted Here by Terry Bankert 3/25/09
You are invited to continue this discussion on my Face Book Page. http://www.facebook.com/people/Terry-Bankert/645845362



Sphere: Related Content

Questions when police kill children

By Terry Bankert
Posted first to Blogging for Michigan

Death by Taser: The Killer Alternative to Guns[5]

Already in the case of the Bay City killing we hear denunciation of the victim and blind support for the police. When there is a death at the hands of the police we have an obligation and right to ask questions.

How can the demand for governmental accountability be any greater than when the Bay City Police Department killed a child with a Taser?

Google Taser Death and numerous articles come up. My intent today is a brief review to begin to raise the right questions we should be asking Bay City Government and our own elected officals.
Since 2001, more than 150 people nationwide have died after they were shocked by Tasers, according to an Amnesty International [6]


Many Taser-associated deaths have been written up by coroners as being attributable to "excited delirium," a condition that includes frenzied or aggressive behavior, rapid heart rate and aggravating factors related to an acute mental state and/or drug-related psychosis. When such suspects are stunned, especially while already being held down or hogtied, deaths seem to occur after a period of "sudden tranquility," as Taser explains in its CD-ROM training material entitled, "Sudden Custody Death: Who's Right and Who's Wrong." In that same material, the company warns officers to "try to minimize the appearance of mishandling suspects."[5]


Today, more than 9,500 law enforcement, correctional and military agencies in 43 countries use Taser weaponry. In the past eight years, more than 184,000 Tasers have been sold to law enforcement agencies, with another 115,000 to citizens in the 43 states where it is legal to possess a stun gun. [5]


A fuzzy video of four Mounties zapping Robert Dziekanski with a stun gun sparked international outrage, but it is unusual for police officers to be convicted of using excessive force in such cases, experts say.The reasons are varied. Police are given leeway to use a certain amount of force in their jobs. It's hard to prove the officers intended to kill or badly hurt the victims. And juries are often hesitant to convict officers if the victims had been acting violently. Among the highest-profile cases of police use of force was that of Rodney King, a black motorist beaten by four Los Angeles police officers in 1991. The police were charged but acquitted in court, sparking massive race riots.[4]


Long touted as a safer alternative to handguns for law enforcement, tasers are potentially deadly weapons that have a growing history of abuse by police and security guards. [5]


A VANCOUVER, B.C. news article on a taser death raised the issue of how many time the victim was tasered on the ground collapsed and did the officer have the proper training.
Taser's stun guns are designed to shoot a maximum of 50,000 volts into a person's body through two compressed nitrogen-fueled probes, thereby disrupting the target's electromuscular system. The probes are connected to the Taser gun by insulated wires, and can deliver repeat shocks in quick succession. The probes can pierce clothing and skin from a distance or be directly applied to a person's body -- a process known as "dry stunning" -- for an ostensibly less-incapacitating, cattle-prod effect.[5]


The inquiry into the Taser-related death of a Polish immigrant at Vancouver International Airport will resume Monday with testimony from the senior officer involved.RCMP Cpl. Benjamin (Monty) Robinson was the officer in charge of a team of four when Robert Dziekanski was hit multiple times with a police stun gun and died on Oct. 14, 2007.Dziekanski family lawyer Walter Kosteckyj said the testimony from the three other Mounties involved has been full of errors and misrepresentations.[2]


Taser International Inc. maintains that its stun-guns are "changing the world and saving lives everyday." There is no question that they changed Jack Wilson's life. On Aug. 4, in Lafayette, Colo., policemen on a stakeout approached Jack's son Ryan as he entered a field of a dozen young marijuana plants. When Ryan took off running, officer John Harris pursued the 22-year-old for a half-mile and then shot him once with an X-26 Taser. Ryan fell to the ground and began to convulse. The officer attempted cardiopulmonary resuscitation, but Ryan died.[5]


"No one should have passed away," he said. "This never should have happened." "When he took the step forward, that's when I gave Const. Millington the command to deploy the Taser," said Robinson. "And at that point, the Taser was deployed."Robinson said when Dziekanski didn't immediately fall down, he asked for a second shock...On the video, one of the officers can be heard shouting, "Hit him again! Hit him again!" after the second stun, long after Dziekanski had fallen. The other officers have said that voice belongs to Robinson. Robinson said he didn't remember giving a third command, but didn't dispute that it was him. "I don't rule that out, it was me a third possible time," he said.A bystander's video played numerous times at the inquiry shows Dziekanski was on the floor for the second stun, and Robinson acknowledged Dziekanski had either already collapsed or was on his way down by the end of the first shock.Robinson completed Taser training in 2003, but that training expired three years later. He wasn't recertified until a month after Dziekanski's death.[1]

QUESTION How many times was the victim tasered.?

QUESTION What was the state of the victim when tasered?

QUESTION Did the officers doing the tasering have proper training or certification?


According to Taser's promotional materials, its stun guns are designed to "temporarily override the nervous system [and take] over muscular control." People who have experienced the effect of a Taser typically liken it to a debilitating, full-body seizure, complete with mental disorientation and loss of control over bodily functions.[5]


In the Canadian case police officers were caught in a lie.
Robinson denied that he and his three Mountie colleagues had colluded in any way by discussing what happened that night.[2]After watching a video of the incident taken by a man at the airport, Robinson admitted his statement was wrong in that Dziekanski did fall after the first Taser and did not have to be wrestled to the ground. [2]

QUESTION What inconsistencies exist in officer statements showing the conspiracy to lie by officers.


He said he thought Dziekanski was only Tasered twice. He didn’t realize the Taser was deployed five times, the last three in stun mode, where the electrical device is held against a person to immobilize them. [2]

QUESTION What does deployed mean? What does stun mode mean? What other mode is there?

Robinson will be asked about his gestures to Dziekanski just before he was jolted, why he asked for another Taser shock even though Dziekanski was already on the floor and what efforts he made to revive the unconscious man.[3]

QUESTION What efforts were made to assist the victim.


The Taser has made the debate around police use of force more complicated. The "conducted energy weapon" was introduced as a less-lethal alternative to handguns, but its usage has increased dramatically in recent years and it has been used in multiple incidents in Canada that have resulted in a death.That has sparked controversy internationally about whether the Taser should be considered the equivalent to a gun, or truly a more middle-of-the-road weapon if used appropriately.[4]

QUESTION How many deaths have been caused by taser?

QUESTION Should a Taser be considered a gun.

SOME TASER HITS OCCUR WHILE CUFFED. Or death occurs after cuffing.

In July, a Louisiana grand jury indicted former police officer Scott Nugent on a manslaughter charge in the death of a man who was Tasered nine times while handcuffed.[4]
QUESTION Why would a handcuffed prisoner need to be tasered?


Over the same period, Taser has developed a near-monopoly in the market for non-lethal weaponry. Increasingly, law enforcement officials use such weapons to subdue society's most vulnerable members: prisoners, drug addicts and the mentally ill, along with "passive resisters," like the protesters demonstrating against Florida Governor Jeb Bush's attendance of a Rick Santorum fundraiser in Pittsburgh on Oct. 9.[5]


Taser has built this monopoly through influence peddling, savvy public relations and by hiring former law enforcement and military officers -- including one-time Homeland Security chief hopeful, Bernard Kerik. And now that questions are being raised about the safety of Taser weaponry, the company is fighting back with legal and marketing campaigns. [5]

Review with a critical eye what the police ,prosecutor and Taser PR people say. The police are our police protecting us.The individual officers did the best they could and feel truly saddened over the death of this child in Bay City. Its tough rough business. Focus on departmental procedure and office training. Put accountability on the police chain of command and the elected officials. They will try to run but they cannot hide.

Posted Here by Terry Bankert 3/23/09
You are invited to continue this discussion on my Face Book Page. http://www.facebook.com/people/Terry-Bankert/645845362





Sphere: Related Content