Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Today's TASER Travesty Triumph?

Taser International, makers of the eponymous devices, has issued a training bulletin, along with an accompanying memo, to police agencies which advises officers who deploy their TASERS to target the pelvic, thigh or back regions of a suspect rather than the chest, as the company has finally admitted that jolts to that particular area "could pose an extremely low risk of an 'adverse cardiac event.'"

That risk would seem to be patently obvious, seeing as how during a TASER deployment to a person's chest 50,000 volts or more of electricity is delivered pretty much right square over the heart, an organ that depends on electrical impulses for its operation, but maybe Taser employees have only just now consulted anatomic experts about the very real possibility of so much juice disrupting a suspect's heart rhythm.

"Extremely low risk" is also debatable, seeing as how "Since 2001, there have been more than 400 deaths following police Taser strikes in the United States and 26 in Canada", but since this bulletin is the first admission by the firm of any risk at all from using their product as intended, it's a significant development which should help prevent some of these adverse events from occurring in the future.

Now, if the company would only issue a similar training bulletin advising police agencies to only use their TASERS for their intended purpose as "less-than-lethal" self-defense weapons (we certainly agree on the device's value as part of a police officer's overall use-of-force continuum. We can even see the occasional chest deployment as being unfortunately necessary, if it's a true defensive situation and the cop honestly had no other choice in the matter), instead of their all-too-often implementation as compliance tools to get simply unruly citizens to do whatever cops want them to, whether as part of a lawful order or not, we'll really be going places.


Bike Bubba said...

I'm torn here. It's good that Taser is saying "yes, this can kill", but it's not so good they're telling officers to aim elsewhere besides the chest.

Why? Simple; it trains them not to aim at the chest, which could be a lethal habit for officers and bystanders when the situation calls for the Glock instead of the Taser.

I'm no fan of police brutality, but I'm sure you and I both agree that sometimes, police need to be ready to put down someone who endangers us all.

Anonymous said...

Endangering us all /= Mouthing off about a traffic ticket. All too often the taser comes out for the latter. Anyway, "endangering us all" is something to be decided by a jury, not a roided up bully with Freudian issues.