Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Debate Goes On...

     Tasers have been introduced as key way to prevent the use of deadly force by guns, and instead having perpetrators become immobilized by sending 50,000 volts through their body. However, there is an on-going debate of whether Tasers are the answer to control these perpetrators who are acting out in a wrongful way and if they are the safest way to subdue these individuals. In my opinion, Taser guns are the appropriate choice if police officers have analyzed the situation and come to a rational decision at their discretion.  The video below is where a Taser is appropriate for a police officer's need to control a situation. He obviously isn't complying and swung at the an officer in the beginning when he tried to approach him in a non-aggressive manner. 
     However, officers sometimes use a Taser when it is not needed at all.  For example, in the situation presented in the video below, a 72 year old women wouldn't sign her ticket and ended up being tased.  I believe in this particular situation the officer didn't have to use his Taser  because he obviously can control the offender who most likely weighs a total of 130 pounds. 

     Police need to realize that this 50,000 shock is known to cause deaths and needs to be used only under the right circumstances. Taser International Inc. claims that these non-lethal weapons are “changing the world and saving lives everyday.” Although, according to the 2008 Amnesty International report found that there were 351 Taser-related deaths in the U.S. between June 2001 and August 2008, in which brings about 4 deaths per month (Tencer). Tasers are capable of causing cardiac arrhythmia. This is where the electrical shock can mess up the rate and rhythm of the heart. The could lead to ventricular heart attack, which leads to cardiac arrest and, if not treated immediately, to sudden death (NHLBI).  It is really dangerous to use on people with medical conditions and it’s difficult for police officers to be able to gauge an individual's medical history and prior drug use before utilizing a Taser on them. 
     Ryan Lewis from Colorado is a perfect example of how a Taser was misused and caused a harmless suspect to fall to his death. Police were staked out near a marijuana field as Ryan showed up. Ryan was caught off-guard and immediately took off running. Officer John Harris pursued the 22-year-old for about a half-mile and then shot him once with his X-26 Taser. This resulted Ryan to go down where he began to convulse. The officer tried everything to revive him but Ryan was pronounced dead at that scene.  After an autopsy was completed, no alcohol or drugs were in his system and they concluded that the cause was attributed to the Taser shock, physical exertion from the chase and that one of his heart arteries was unusually small (Talvi). This story should be used as a lesson to all police officers regarding the dangers of applying this type of force, as the result could be death.  

Ryan Lewis - Taser Death by Talvi
Arrhythmia - National Heat Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI)
Taser International
Analysis: Taser-related deaths in US Accelerating by Tencer


  1. The debate whether tazers are a good form of less-than-lethal force has been going on since its inception and will probably never end. In my opinion, tazers are a great tool that police officers have access to because it almost always results in the suspect being apprehended with little to no damage done to suspect nor officer. However, there is always an exception, and sometimes people do end up dying, but these individuals usually have some pre-existing condition which is made worse by the voltage. I can assure you tazing someone is much more humane than repeatedly beating someone with a metal baton and safer to use that OC spray which can clear out an entire room for hours, and affect many other people than just the suspect. We as a society have become so sensitive to any form of violence that when we see it we are automatically disgusted and when it involves an officer it is immediately deemed police brutality or unnecessary force. The truth is violence is very much a part of life and the safest and most effective way, at the very moment, to combat violence and violent suspects is to use a tazer, when absolute necessary.

  2. I think tasers can be a great tool in the criminal justice world. The first video example of police struggling to control a rather large male who was fighting off officers is one case in which a taser really came in handy. When faced with the dilemma of how to handle a man who is physically aggressive towards officer, they have to choose between using deadly force (shoot at the man) or less lethal force taser to gain control of the subject. In the second example with the 72 year old woman the officer could have easily physically restrained the woman. The use of a taser was not necessary in this case. The final example with the man from Colorado was an unfortunate case. Officers use their discretion to decided when to use taser i think that common sense would also help them decide when to use them. Overall I believe that tasers are a great tool that can help police officers handle situations on a daily basis.