Grand Jury Recommends Sheriff's Department Rethink Taser Training; Department Responds

After three police related deaths where a Taser was administered by officers from the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department since 2008, a grand jury in San Bernardino convened to look at the department's Taser policy and produce a report which was released June 28. One of the deaths mentioned in the report was Allen Kephart of Arrowhead, Calif., who suffered 16 Taser exposures by officers during a traffic stop in May 2011 because, "Some deputies believed their tasers were not working."

Kephart is not named directly in the report but the jury's foreman, E.H. Burgnon confirmed to Reason.com that the jury was refering to his death.

The grand jury offered several recommendations to the department who reviewed manuals and training materials used by the department, including making sure officers know if a Taser is working properly so suspects are not subjected to repeated exposures and requiring senior officers to keep track of the amount of exposures to one person. The report was generally concerned that officers didn't know how to use the devices properly. From the report:

In the TP manual, there were 13 cautionary references to avoid repeated, multiple, prolonged, continuous, or simultaneous ECD [Electronic Control Device] exposures. In fact, in the case of the SBCSD TTA manual, there was no information in this policy dealing with how many times a person can safely be tasered. This is discretionary, and each officer makes the decision.

The department disagreed with the recommendations in its response filed August 20, saying that they already had procedures that addressed the concerns raised. In response to the grand jury's recommendation that the department needed to formulate training to address the problem of knowing when the Taser is working properly to avoid repeated exposures the department said:

Deputies are trained to transition to alternative force options once the Taser deployment is deemed ineffective. Many deputies voluntarily receive full taser charges to gain first-hand knoledge of the physiological effects. This training is designed to provide recognition of proper operation, thereby minimizing repeat and prolonged use.

A lawsuit was filed by the Kephart family against the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department. That suit was settled in June 2013.

Reason TV covered Kephart's death as details were emerging in The Killing of Allen Kephart: How the Police Lost the Trust of a Law-and-Order Town. And for more on Tasers, check out, Who's Lethal? Police or Tasers.

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  • Hugh Akston||

    What else were the deputies supposed to do? Those perps were screaming, writhing, convulsing on the ground, and losing control of their bowels. They were clearly resisting arrest and a threat to office safety.

  • Andrew S.||

    http://www.theonion.com/articl.....ngsta,739/

    Life imitating parody. You know, back before The Onion became a partisan shell of its former self.

  • amelia||

    I totally get how someone could do this. It's like when I put quarters in the soda machine and a soda comes out. I just keep hitting the button again and again because I'm not sure it worked. Cops are people too.

  • Paul.||

    "Some deputies believed their tasers were not working."

    Lying liars lie.

  • AnarchoAlex||

    Procedures were followed

  • Andrew S.||

    People were tasered. Nobody was punished, so nobody did anything wrong. Bigorati! HTH!

  • Paul.||

    And I mean really, since when did we expect your average officer to control the power of electricity itself? It's no like they're Zeus!

  • Libertymike||

    Or Tesla.

  • Paul.||

    Jesus, we're on a roll. This post reads like one of my business meetings.

    The department disagreed with the recommendations in its response filed August 20, saying that they already had procedures that addressed the concerns raised.

    So explain past events. On my desk, by eight o'clock in the A.M.

    Deputies are trained to transition to alternative force options once the Taser deployment is deemed ineffective

    Isn't that what the officers essentially claimed? That the officers hadn't determined that their tasers were effective or ineffective? I have little doubt... wait, zero, carry the zero.. yeah I have NO doubt that if the officer actually believed or thought his taser wasn't working, he would have immediately switched to 'alternative methods of force' like the stick, the fist, or the pistol.

    Fuck, this post pisses me off.

  • Paul.||

    Many deputies voluntarily receive full taser charges to gain first-hand knoledge of the physiological effects. This training is designed to provide recognition of proper operation, thereby minimizing repeat and prolonged use.

    Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck you. In controlled conditions, on a wrestling mat to dampen the fall, 'safe words' employed, the whole shebang. Not lying on a ground with eight people who have decided you need to die, all tasering you at once.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    I remember reading (City of LA v. Lyons) that the LAPD goon squads killed 16 people with the chokehold.

    The problem is not the equipment or the techniques. The problem is the barely controlled animals law enforcement tends to attract.

  • Libertymike||

    Butler Shaffer wrote a very good piece on this the other day.

    He asks, "if the state is defined in terms of its enjoying a monopoly on the use of violence, what is the character of people who would be attracted to the use of its violent tools and practices?"

    He also asks, "What sort of people would be attracted to careers that gave them the arbitrary power to force others to their will; work premised on the imperative of obedience?"

    Reason does not carry his work. Lew Rockwell.com, on the other hand, features Mr. Shaffer.

  • Harvard||

    [ The report was generally concerned that officers didn't know how to use the devices properly. ]

    [The department disagreed with the recommendations in its response filed August 20, saying that they already had procedures that addressed the concerns raised.]

    I think I may have stumbled onto an issue factor here.

  • PapayaSF||

    who suffered 16 Taser exposures

    I love the phrase "Taser exposures." Next: being shot will be called "bullet disclosures."

  • Malvolio||

    Grand Jury Recommends Sheriff's Department Rethink Taser Training; Department Responds By Tasering Grand Jury

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    This just in: Area Police Department Tone Deaf to Citizen Concerns

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