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.