The Taser has steadily been gaining popularity
among police departments.  The Taser, a non-lethal
weapon that emits 50,000 volts of electricity with
low amperage, has proven to be quite efficient in
subduing combative suspects.  

The media frequently airs tapes of police officers
zapping people who appear to be offering no
resistance.  The part that people have a hard time
understanding is the non-compliance issue.  When
you become a police officer, you'll learn that many
people fail to follow your verbal directions.  I love
the tape where the officer orders a woman to exit
her vehicle.  Just by the comments from the
woman, it's obvious she has no intention to follow
the officer's orders even after he warns her that
he's going to zap her with the Taser.  It should also
be just as obvious that if the officer had attempted
to physically remove her from the vehicle, she would
have resisted, and some level of physical force
would have been required to control or subdue her.  
However, tasing a person for simple non-compliance
is never going to look good; unless, that person is
of such size; stature, and demeanor which indicates
that a physical assault on you is imminent.

The thing that is so attractive about the Taser is
how clean the device does it's job.  It incapacitates
a person instantly without inflicting bruises,
contusions, lacerations, or fractures -- the desired
results of police opponents and lawyers.  Since the
experience is so unpleasant, it's value as a
psychological deterrence for continued resistance
cannot be overlooked.

But, as police are prone to do, they frequently
screw up a good thing.  When it comes to the
Taser, zapping small children and the elderly doesn't
sit well with anyone.  As the piece above so
graphically demonstrates, there are times when the
use of the weapon is clearly inappropriate.
As far as deaths resulting from use of the Taser,
the debate continues to go on.  It's not uncommon
for violent persons who are subdued by police to
die following an encounter with police where the use
of force is required.  These deaths are usually the
result of preexisting physical conditions exacerbated
by the struggle or by substance abuse which
caused or contributed to their violent behavior.  

You should view the use of the Taser just as you
would any other use of force -- don't apply the
force unless you must.  It all comes down to your
decision to use force, because you're the one who's
going to have to justify the use of that force.

As with any technology, the Taser technology will be
improved to a point where it's size and availability
for rapid use will become even more convenient.  
The Taser, and similar technology, can have a very
beneficial effect for law enforcement, as well as
those subjected to its force, as long as police
officers don't abuse this very promising
"You should view the use of the Taser just as
you would any other use of force -- don't
apply the force unless you must."
~ Barry M. Baker
According to one report, the officer in this story
had 18 years on the job when this incident
occurred, so he's certainly no rookie.  What did he
do?  Well, he shot 50,000 volts of electricity, from a
Taser gun, into an 18 year old drug suspect for his
[the suspect's] own good.  You ask, "Where's the
catch?  That doesn't sound so bad."  Well, the
officer zapped this guy while he [the suspect] was
strapped to a hospital bed.  Now, you think, "This
guy must have been a mental case who was tearing
away his restraints and about to place others in
danger."  Sorry, nothing that dramatic.  The
suspect refused to give hospital staff a urine
sample.  When he wouldn't hold still for the
insertion of a catheter..."ouch!"..., the police officer
acted with
stunning results,  and the suspect
agreed to urinate on his own.

What happened to the police officer?  According to
subsequent reports, the State's Attorney charged
him with misdemeanor battery which carries a 1
year jail sentence.  He was lucky.  He didn't get any
jail time, and the police department didn't fire him.  

Sometimes, people just don't use good
judgement.  Do you think that same police officer
would have used his pepper spray in the same
situation?  Of course, not.  There is one thing this
police officer did absolutely right... he reported
exactly what he did.  He didn't try to cover up
anything.  You hear a lot about the "cover-up"
being worse than the actual deed, and that is
definitely true.  That's the reason he didn't go to
jail, and he kept his job.
Use of Force
Copyright © 2019  Barry M. Baker