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Monday, January 12, 2009

Something Must Be Done About Tasers

Hello Papamoka Bloggers - I need to take a position on tasers after reading about another death this weekend in Virginia. Poor 17-year-old Derrick Jones of Martinsville was pronounced dead in his own home following an encounter with police that ended in a taser blast.

Neighbors called the police due to noise. Jones, who had been drinking AT HOME with friends, "moved rapidly" towards the officer while making unspecified unkind comments. Police officers know that tasers have killed people in the past, especially those who may be high on drugs, so a taser should have been used as a LAST RESORT!

It is clear to me that police officers, who I hold in great esteem, are not using their tasers properly. They're inadvertently killing innocent people, and something must be done. He wasn't armed, so why taser him? Why couldn't the officers have just called in back-up, and wrestled him to the ground the old-fashioned way? Isn't that why we hire strong officers?

This is an example of how some police departments are taking tasers too lightly, and how they use them too casually. Despite what some police say, tasers can be deadly weapons, and they should be taken very seriously.

A CBS report shows that tasers have KILLED "at least 400 people in the United States and Canada since 2001." Those figures leave out those who merely suffered heart attacks yet survived after being tasered. I don't know about you, but if the police know that tasers can kill, or cause heart attacks, and they do, than it's clear that tasers should be restricted to the same rules as firearms. It only seems reasonable to me.

I've even read that when testing tasers on rookies, to demonstrate their use, police departments make a big deal to use volunteers with a medical clearance, because they know a heart attack is possible. That alone is very disturbing to me. It shows they are aware.

I'm pretty angry because, despite my admiration for law enforcement, I think some police departments are out of control, seeming almost militaristic in the way they enforce laws on unarmed citizens. It could be the thin end of the wedge, and could get worse. We as citizens need to get more vocal about it, unless you want to risk being tasered in the future, or even killed.

Just like that college student in Florida who tried to scream questions to McCain, and who begged not to get tasered by campus police, people are getting tasered way too easily. It is a growing problem that needs to be addressed by journalists and community groups. It is a good cause, and people have to speak up more. I know I will try.

My own father died in 1969 after police chased a criminal causing him to slam into my father going around 90 mph on city streets. Police chases kill thousands each year, and very little is written about their victims.

I cope with the idea that my father died because police thought it was important to catch that criminal. In a way he was armed, at least with a speeding vehicle. I could see tasering that young man if he was carrying a taser, or driving a car perhaps, but not for simply running and yelling abusive language.

Citizens tolerate police carrying firearms for good reason, but we do not have to tolerate police tasering unarmed citizens. Either police departments begin to take great steps to limit their use, or citizens should do it for them by writing laws. Something must be done. Derrick Jones should not die in vain.

Michael Boh
Papamoka's Left Coast Contributor
from Our Rants & Raves Blog

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Blogger B.J. said...

What a tragic personal experience you had.

It is tragic when a kid dies. It also is tragic when a kid that young is in a drunken rage.

Using a Taser which ends in death is counterproductive when the purpose of using one in the first place is to prevent use of a firearm.


5:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

At least when they use a taser there isn't a guaranteed gross bodily harm was with a firearm.

That guy at the McCain was tasered with the PUSSIEST taser every, have you watched videos about what normal happens? They loose muscle control and go rigid, yet he is able to keep screaming?

Society has rules.

2:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tasers are harmless. The effect of a taser is only equivalent to a slightly vigorous workout. If he lunged at an officer they had the right to shoot him. instead they chose to try and save his life and use a taser. since that was the last thing they used it was of course blamed on that. The cops are doing there job which doesn't involve being hurt. he brought it on himself and ultimately he paid the price. Don't blame officers for doing there job and trying to keep themselves safe. I've been tased before and while slightly painful after the 5 seconds of electricity that is less harmful then a wall socket, you hop right up. no after effect. Let police officers do there job and stop defending the bad guy.

1:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The florida student was trying to question John Kerry, not John McCain.

10:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

People who write blogs and are not on the police end of the taser, rarely understand the uses it has.
1st, you asked "Why not call for backup? Simple. Ask yourself if you want to wait those precious 10, 20 seconds...3 minutes before and officer arrives. Then, that officer respinding is already hyped up for what seems like a "Officer needs assistance, QUICK" call.

The taser is a simple way of defusing a potentially dangerous situation. Officers do not have time to ask "are you physically fit to handle a taser shot? No? Then, would you mind laying on the ground so I don't have to hit or whoot you?"

2) The kid was yelling questions at John Kerry. "Don't taze me, bro." While I am a big Republican, I will first admit that what the kid was doing was wrong on all fronts. First, he caused disorderly conduct. His behavior was alarming and disturbing. He actively resisted the officers commands to leave. Active resistance is pulling away from physical restraint. A big pig pile could have ensued with someone getting hurt, but by in large, that 5 second burst is the bext thing that could have resulted in this.

Please, do a ride-along with police in a dangerous area of town before writing about something you don't know too much about.

2:22 PM  

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