CBS Looks Into "the hottest thing in police work these days"


On Sunday, CBS staple 60 Minutes looked at Tasers. The report was more or less based on a May 2011 National Institute of Justice study which suggested that Tasers are used too often (something the ACLU also agree with, at least in New York state) and that there's something called "Lazy Cop Syndrome" which is what it says on the tin— officers using Tasers instead of their training in order to defuse a situation.

However, it seems that the brothers who brought stun guns to the masses (and the trading floor) by changing the method of firing from gun powder to the unregulated compressed air — thereby cornering the stun gun market with their TASER International— wanted to clear up some supposed misconceptions, so they went to 60 Minutes themselves.

An interesting aspect to the story is that the Baltimore Police Commissioner has some misgivings about the mostly non-lethal weapon.

The Baltimore Sun blog highlights these excerpts from the show

Baltimore's Police Commissioner Frederick Bealefeld may be Taser's most reluctant customer.

Bealefeld: I recognize, one, the utility of this device. It makes the public safer in a lot of situations. It has helped contribute, in some measure to reductions of deadly force.

David Martin: But you're not a fan?

Bealefeld: On a personal level, no. I'm absolutely not a fan.

Bealefeld is a third generation cop who believes there are better ways than Taser to avoid the use of force.

Bealefeld: If you don't emphasize the training, and that's a key component, and the oversight, the use of them—it could lead you down a path of over dependence on that device. That's been a chief concern that I've had. That we don't substitute our basic responsibility to a short-cutted method of deploying a Taser to get people to comply.

And he believes that, even though the Baltimore police department has used Tasers for over 10 years.

Bealefeld: Even now less than 500 of the devices are deployed across the whole police department. I have 2,800 sworn members.

David Martin: What do the ones who don't get a Taser think about it?

Bealefeld: They're clamoring for 'em.

The whole show is worth a look, if only to remind ourselves how unfunny the screams of the "don't tase me, bro!" kid sound.

Reason on Tasers, particularly their part in the death of Allen Kephardt. 

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  1. from what i hear, it was a pretty good report

    definitely, cops have and do overuse tasers, a point i have frequently made. this is both an institutional problem (poorly written policies in many agencies) and an individual officer problem. in some cases, it is also a dept. culture problem

  2. oh, i’d also like to know when the baltimore “police commissioner” had to actually DEAL with a violent subject, or heck… even make an arrest.

    it’s great that a cop-o-crat has misgivings, but he’s not on the line making shoot/don’t shoot or tase/don’t tase decisions.

    i;m not sure about baltimore, but in some jurisdictions, police commissioners often have literally NO police experience whatsoever.

    1. From his departmental bio:
      Commissioner Bealefeld began his police service in Baltimore as a cadet in May of 1981 and has served in almost all operational units of the Baltimore Police Department, including patrol, narcotics, district detective, homicide and on a federal task force.

      1. Shhhh. You’re interfering with his “cop-a-crat” hate, which he uses in the place of the more logical cop hate that most libertarians employ.

        1. We’ve all seen the Wire, we know how he got his job.

        2. yea, cop-o-crats like kerlikowske are AWESOME!!!

          obama should get more!!

          1. yea, cop-o-crats like kerlikowske are AWESOME!!!

            You misunderstand. Cop- o-crats suck. A cop-o-crat is still a cop. The o-crats part is unnecessary.

            1. bureaucrats suck

              so, if you think cops suck, can you imagine the combination of bureaucrat AND cop?

              of course my point about cop-o-crats is they are NOT cops. they are bureaucrats POSING as cops

              in this case, he appears to be a real cop

  3. “to remind ourselves how unfunny the screams of the “don’t tase me, bro!” kid sound.”

    What? That was funny, someone even made a song out of it.
    Just because it’s painful and cruel doesn’t mean it can’t be funny.

    1. especially considering the “don’t tase me bro” kid did it FOR political theater. his GOAL was to create EXACTLY the sort of the “theater” and controversy that he did, and to force the cops to respond to his idiocy. he was clasping his hands underneath him and was given multiple orders… iow it wasn’t even an unjustified tase.

      it is an AWFUL example if you are criticizing taser misusage.

  4. Ah, a taser thread. Here’s where I get to show, yet again, that not only are tasers are more deadly than other UOF options, they fail to show any decrease in officer or suspect shootings.


    The only thing they’re really good for is gaining compliance from a cop for some arbitrary bullshit that he wouldn’t bring out a baton for, cause he knows it’s bullshit, and jurrors usually only reward damages to broken faces.

    1. Money quote from the study:

      Fifty cities provided predeployment and postdeployment data on in-custody sudden death, 21 cities reported firearm deaths, and 4 cities reported OIs. The rate of in-custody sudden death increased 6.4-fold (95% confidence interval 3.2-12.8, p = 0.006) and the rate of firearm death increased 2.3-fold (95% confidence interval 1.3?4.0, p = 0.003) in the in the first full year after Taser deployment compared with the average rate in the 5 years before deployment.

      1. actually, i give mass props to coeus. THIS is actual evidence, and rational, REASONable data to oppose tasers, at least as currently employed.

        in all the anti-taser threads i have ever read he is the only one i have ever seen to offer compelling evidence

        evidence that could very well change my mind

        that’s pretty fucking bitchen!

        1. in all the anti-taser threads i have ever read he is the only one i have ever seen to offer compelling evidence

          Did you forget about this?

          1. was there a link to that full study, or just a money quote?

            if so, fair enuf

            this study that coeus provided is excellent, either way

            anybody who is not willing to change their minds when data is presented that conflicts with their beliefs is… by definition… NOT reasonable.

            1. Read it closely, now. I didn’t see anything questionable, but we don’t look too closely at stuff which confirms our perspective. I almost got rooked by that study you provided for excited delirium which was actually tracking the number of people who died while tied up (no other qualifications), till I tracked down the sources.

              1. i *am*.

                that’s my point, coeus. it *is* compelling. i concede that

                like i said, a reasonable man CHANGES his mind when presented with enough data.

                a bigoted/prejudiced one does not

                you have presented compelling data.

    2. I’ve also cited that study on here before.

      1. You have indeed. I just googled it, and you even found it a day before I did.

  5. The report was more or less based on a May 2011 National Institute of Justice study which suggested that Tasers are used too often (something the ACLU also agree with, at least in New York state) and that there’s something called “Lazy Cop Syndrome” which is what it says on the tin? officers using Tasers instead of their training in order to diffuse a situation.

    You “defuse” a situation, much as you would defuse a bomb. Diffuse is the opposite of concentrated, as in “diffuse particles in the air.”

  6. “excerts” is an excerpt of “exerpts”!

  7. The “don’t tase me bro!” wailing is as hilarious as ever — thanks.

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