Tuesday, June 26, 2007

All WA police to carry stun guns

June 26, 2007: The West Australian Police Commissioner, Karl O'Callaghan, says all officers on duty will be equipped with stun guns. The WA police force has purchased another 1,100 Tasers. Shaped like a gun but battery-operated, a Taser fires two fishhooklike barbs into a person's skin and disrupts a person's muscle control for five seconds.

The darts have a range of up to 21 feet; the tool also can be pressed directly against a person to use in stun mode. The pain can be excruciating, "freezing" someone on the spot

The Commissioner says officers will have a one-day training course on how to use the guns during the next six months. In the USA, 2000 approximately 5000 officers were been issued with tasers. By 2004 about 100,000 officers in over 5500 police forces across the United states have been issued with them.

Over 60 people have died in the United States after being tasered...

Tasers are powerful electrical weapons used by over 7,000 of the 18,000 law enforcement agencies in the USA. They are designed to incapacitate by conducting 50,000 volts of electricity into your body. The electrical pulses induce skeletal muscle spasms that immobilise and incapacitate, causing you to collapse to the ground.

More than 150 people have died in the US after being struck by tasers since June 2001 - 61 in 2005 alone - and numbers are continuing to rise. Most who died were subjected to multiple or prolonged shocks. In 2006, Nickolos Cyrus, a 29-year-old man diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, was shocked 12 times with a Taser stun gun after a Wisconsin police officer caught him trespassing on a construction site.

Also in 2006, an American teenager carrying a Bible who shouted "I want Jesus" was killed after being shot twice by a police stun gun. Police in Missouri said 17-year-old Roger Holyfield would not acknowledge officers who approached him and he continued yelling.

In Seattle in 2004, deputies pulled over Valinda Otis, who told them she was 3 months pregnant and needed to use the bathroom. When police wouldn't let her go to a nearby restroom, she walked toward it anyway, and was quickly handcuffed and placed in a patrol car. She screamed and kicked the car door. That's when a deputy with the King County Sheriff's Office pulled out a Taser, pressed it against her thigh and jolted her with 50,000 volts of electricity.

"It was a sharp pain," said Otis, 24, who was three months pregnant at the time of the incident. "I kept asking, 'Is it gonna mess up my baby?'"

As well, deputies fired Tasers at a teenager who ran after not paying a $1 bus fare, a 71-year-old man who refused to get into a police car, and a partially deaf man who couldn't hear deputies ordering him to stop, reports show. About three out of four of those shocked by Seattle police were unarmed.

Civil rights advocates in the United States argue Tasers are being drawn too quickly and in cases in which such extreme force isn't necessary. They worry about potential abuses as more officers rely on the tool to subdue people who they say pose no serious threat to themselves or others.

In November 2004 Amnesty International published a comprehensive report detailing it's concerns over the use of tasers in the USA, calling for a suspension on their use and transfer pending an independent, rigorous and impartial inquiry into their use.


Arguments Against Tasers Being Issued To All Operational Police

* Expense including costs of training is better used for training about handling people in mentally affected states, in particular people with mental illness.

* Accountability while advocates argue that the tasers have inbuilt chips which record use, details of police use of weaponry is not made available to the public and as no organisation is funded to routinely obtain these detail, they remain hidden from the public.

* Threats: There is no way of keeping track of how often or in what circumstances a taser has been used to obtain compliance without being fired ('threatened use'). It is one of Taser's strengths that it can defuse a situation without actually being used, but also one of its weaknesses. The threat of a being shocked can and will be used to obtain compliance when violence was not an issue.

* Safety: 150 people in the United States have died since 2001 after being tasered and concerns are mounting as the number of deaths increases. After 6 deaths in Canada, the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, in August this year, requested a "unique and comprehensive review of scientific research, field reports, and data on the use of Tasers in police work in Canada and around the World" (RCMP News Report 18/8/04).

* Lack of scientific research: There is a paucity of independent and rigorous research into the effects and safety of the tasers. There have been no tests published in scholarly peer-review scientific journals. Taser relies on two studies, one of a single pig in 1996 and on five dogs in 1999 conducted by company paid researchers. They also cite many examples of police voluntarily being tasered as evidence of safety, but for the most part they receive a shock one tenth that given to suspects. Medical experts warn to be wary of labelling tasers safe.

* Vulnerable groups: There are people who are particularly at risk when tasered. These are pregnant women and those with cardiovascular disease, people who are drug affected, young people, older people and those with mental illness. Some of these people such as those drug affected and with a mental illness are more likely to be tasered.

* Increased use: As the use of tasers become more accepted their use will increase, so that they are used in situations where they are not an alternative to deadly force but to ensure compliance. A 2002 study found 85% of people shocked with tasers were unarmed.

* Abuse: Reports of abuse of tasers when issued to all police are growing along with deaths.

o In Canada an officer has been charges with tasering a man while police handcuffed him; a peaceful protester was tasered as he lay on the ground in passive resistance; in May 2003 10 Algerians facing deportation from Canada were repeatedly tasered for refusing to leave the immigration ministers office.

o In the United States, suspects already in custody are tasered; a hand cuffed 9 year old girl was tasered; a 66 year old woman was tasered; in at least three dozen cases from Denver, police tasered the person multiple times in one incident; one man was tasered twice after he was handcuffed and in the car.

* Logistics: the weight of police belts exceeds 4 kg causing back problems and slowing police down. Another piece of kit will obviously add to this...


Lawyers warn against Taser guns
Police are too quick to grab for Taser
USA: Taser-related deaths pass 150 mark
2004 Amnesty International
Taser death a cause for alarm
Death by Taser: The Killer Alternative to Guns

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

WHAT are you people thinking?

You KNOW the problems we in the US have with TASER-HAPPY COPS.

WHY would you want that in your society?

TASER abuse is ALWAYS justified in the US. The "internal review" or "investigation" is just window dressing, a mere formality.

The cop just says you were not being "compliant."

"He lunged at me," is another common one, especially when the victim is one unfortunate enough to have an epileptic seizure in public. Yes, people are TASERED in the US when police come upon them having an epileptic seizure http://abcnews.go.com/US/print?id=2675374

The most egregious cases of all occur when a cop is hurt when dealing a person. That's when you're most likely to end up dead.

Frederick Williams (an epileptic) had gone off his medication, and was acting strangely - in front of his own home.

The cop who responded chose to tussle with Mr. Williams, and in the process fell down and got a bloody nose.

That sealed the fate of Mr. Frederick Williams.

The brave cop ran and called for backup.

"Backup" was TEN more officers.

Frederick Williams was TASERED repeatedly, including FIVE times within 60 seconds.

Eventually the brave, heroic (and very vindictive) cops noticed Mr. Williams wasn't breathing.

His last words were, "Don't kill me man, I've calmed down!" [calmed down, hell. A COP had a BLOODY NOSE!!] "I have a family to support, don't kill me!"

Watch the video of devoted husband and father Frederick Williams being killed.


Then ask yourself - why in God's name would we want that here?

Do not accept the assurances you receive from the government.

And for God's sake, don't accept the propaganda spewing from TASER Inc., or the "research" they pay for.

In the US we are slowly and steadily being TASERED into silence, submission, and meek "compliance."

Perhaps the most dangerous use of the TASER is against PASSIVE RESISTANCE.

Yes, in the US (in spite of the assurances that we too have received), we can be TASERED, repeatedly for non-violent, non-threatening, completely PASSIVE RESISTANCE.

Dissent and protest are effectively being banned, and we are becoming american cattle.