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11.06.2005

Tasers on Stun 

Sometimes people with strong political opinions are pigeonholed as liberal or conservative. Most people are neither exclusively but it is an easy way to reject, out of hand, valid criticism.

I have many liberal views but also a few conservative ones. An excellent book on the subject is by Ted Rall called "Wake Up, You're a liberal". It is an excellent look at how most Americans are truly liberal in most of their political philosophies and it is the right wing which has, pretty successfully, convinced many Americans that they aren't.

Anyway, my point is I have some pretty (traditionally) conservative viewpoints and I would like bring some of them up.

I am pro-cop. I believe the majority of law enforcement officers do their jobs everyday in very tough situations and do so honestly and within the parameters of our laws and constitution. There are some bad cops just as there are some bad doctors, plumbers and teachers. Bad cops should be held accountable, fired, prosecuted, publicly humiliated and sued. There is no reason to tolerate illegal or abusive behavior from people with so much power over free citizens.

With that being said, there is quite a bit of controversy and some demonization of a tool beginning to be used by law enforcement. That tool is the taser.

An electroshock gun (sometimes referred to as a stun gun or taser), is a weapon used for subduing a person by administering a deliberate electric shock.

It is described as non-lethal (officially "less-lethal", meaning it is not intended to kill, and usually does not kill, but does on rare occasions). It is a weapon used by police officers and army personnel, although it is also used by non-army personnel for self-defense. It sends an electric current through a person at a level that is less than fatal but still severe enough to incapacitate them, and is not meant to do any permanent damage to a person, only to stun them tempor

Tasers are a tool used by law enforcement and demonized by some on the left. This is one subject on which I disagree with some on my political side.

I have watched many videos of people being tasered and all of the ones I have seen were legally justified uses of the taser. The subject being stunned is usually given repeated warnings, is actively resisting arrest and without the taser, the officer would be forced to either use hand to hand combat, pepper spray, baton or escalate up to lethal force.

Anytime a person resists the lawful orders of an officer, they force the escalation of force. The person being arrested dictates the amount of force used against them. All police departments have a use of force policy which dictates the type of force to be used and when to use it.

Here is a video of a person being tasered who absolutely brought it upon himself. He is abusive to the officer, intoxicated, physically resists and ignored repeated warnings by the officer. This person was also trying to return to his vehicle to leave the scene, putting others in danger or to retrieve a hidden weapon to use against the officer. This is an absolutely correct use of force by the officer.

The next video shows a bad officer. This female Las Vegas officer is holding a suspect at gunpoint while her partner handcuffs the suspect. This is a perfect example of poor training, incompetence and or plain stupidity. This officer reminds me a lot of someone I used to work with. A lot.

There have been 8 deaths alleged to have been caused by tasers but there have also been a significant reduction in officer involved shootings in cities that have adopted the taser as part of their less than lethal arsenal.

The most important thing for people to remember when dealing with a law enforcement officer is to comply, comply, comply. Yes sir. No sir. Mother may I. Defer to the officer even if you believe he or she is in the wrong. You can always fight it legally later.

Chris Rock made a great public service video called "How to not get your ass kicked by the police". Watch it, learn it, live it and save yourself a beating.

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