Tasers

Chicago Needs More Tasing

Perhaps Tasers will result in fewer fatal shootings.

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Credit: Oldmaison / photo on flickr

Progress is often hard to measure, but in the coming year in Chicago, there will be one revealing indicator: how many citizens are being Tased. More, note, is likely to be better. 

That's the theory of Mayor Rahm Emanuel and black aldermen who want to see fewer people being riddled with police bullets. The mayor announced Wednesday his plan to equip every officer with a Taser, in the hope that more suspects perceived as dangerous will be subdued without the use of lethal force. 

The impetus for the change is a series of fatal shootings by cops. One of the most infamous involved 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, who was carrying a pocketknife and walking away from police when Officer Jason Van Dyke shot him 16 times. The other officers at the scene had called for a Taser and were waiting for it to arrive. 

It was a classic instance where cops needed a better option than 1) tolerating a dangerous, armed suspect and 2) inflicting death on him. A similar situation arose recently when an officer killed a 19-year-old man who was allegedly wielding a baseball bat—and a 55-year-old bystander. A Taser might have resolved these encounters without serious injury, much less loss of life. 

Emanuel also promised something equally important: better training of police to make encounters with citizens "less confrontational and more conversational." The overall goal is not just to curb police shootings but to make the use of force "the last option, not the first choice." 

Tasers are not always a good option. If a suspect is pointing a loaded gun at a cop or attacking with a knife, deadly force is in order. But in some situations, a Taser can be effective in defusing a threat without bloodshed, which is by far the preferred outcome. 

There is some evidence to support Emanuel's hopes. A study sponsored by the National Institute of Justice concluded that when deployed in confrontations between cops and suspects, the stun guns have "the effect of reducing injuries to all persons in the conflict." After providing these weapons to all officers, the Phoenix Police Department reported a 54 percent decline in shootings by police. 

Seattle expanded use of Tasers and then, in 2003, went an entire year without a fatal shooting by police—the first time that had happened in a decade and a half. "We think a large part of what happened in '03 was a result of Tasers," said Gil Kerlikowske, who was then the police chief and is now head of U.S. Customs and Border Protection. 

Steve Ijames, a retired police chief who has instructed police officers in over 30 countries on the use of force, says, "If every Chicago police officer had a Taser and was properly trained in its use, you would likely see a rapid and significant reduction in the levels of force used and related injuries—to suspects as well as police officers." 

Not all experts are convinced. "Over time, the national use of Tasers is not associated with any visible decline in shootings or killings," Franklin Zimring, a law professor at the University of California, Berkeley, tells me. 

Like most things, Tasers carry dangers, as well as advantages. Poorly trained or irresponsible cops may use this tool indiscriminately, particularly in situations where they would know better than to discharge a gun. "It works so darn well that officers sometimes use it too early," says Ijames. 

When Sandra Bland refused to leave her car during a traffic stop in Prairie View, Texas, the state trooper threatened, "I will light you up!" In 2013, a man died in police custody in South Boston, Virginia, after being shocked some 20 times. A method that is invaluable to officers in controlling dangerous suspects can also be tempting for punishing those who are merely disrespectful or uncooperative. 

The success of the Chicago experiment will lie in whether the city provides thorough training and rigorously monitors how the devices are employed. The mayor and police chief need to not only equip all officers with Tasers but make a full commitment to ensuring that officers use them—and use them appropriately.

Otherwise, the effort will be an expensive and tragic waste, as well as a new danger to citizens. A bad cop with a Taser is still a bad cop.

© Copyright 2015 by Creators Syndicate Inc.

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  1. Cop: Ima gonna tase you so bad! *blam blam blam blam blam*

    Cop: Oops.

    1. My last pay check was $9500 working 12 hours a week online. My sisters friend has been averaging 15k for months now and she works about 20 hours a week. I can’t believe how easy it was once I tried it out. This is what I do..

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    2. My last pay check was $9500 working 12 hours a week online. My sisters friend has been averaging 15k for months now and she works about 20 hours a week. I can’t believe how easy it was once I tried it out. This is what I do..

      Clik This Link inYour Browser….

      ? ? ? ? http://www.WorkPost30.Com

    3. Did I do that?

  2. Tasers are much more fun than guns- you can torture the peasants with much less messy paperwork.

  3. On Oregon and Y’all Alqueda…

    When I was a teenager I believed and openly stated that I thought that if you emptied the jails and had former prisoners take the jobs of police officers and then jailed the police officers the world would be a better place. Hey, I grew up with Ray-gun so what could you expect from a sensitive soul who knew what was up?

    With age comes wisdom so my position has become more nuanced. Here’s how i deal with cops and think of their job…

    1. Most cops are dicks
    2. 1. Notwithstanding, cops have a job to do and it’s not a job that I would want
    3. In general, when a cop asked you to do something you should do it. If what they ask you to do is illegal you can always sue the fuckers, go to the press, file an IA report and otherwise make the cop’s life miserable
    4. If you get arrested or are questioned by a cop politely decline to answer any questions, ask for a lawyer and otherwise shut the fuck up
    .
    .
    .
    52. If you a.) kill a cop, b.) injure a cop, c.)threaten to kill a cop, d.) point a gun at a cop, e.) wave a gun at a cop, f.) threaten to shoot at cops as part of a i.) racist, ii.) nationalist, iii.) cult or iv.) radical political group you probably shouldn’t complain when you get shot at by cops.

    1. Ah man! You had me up to 52. So you’re okay with threats carrying a death sentence? Final question: does boot polish taste like liquorice? I’ve always imagined it did..

      1. They always tell you it tastes like candy before they make you taste it.

    2. In general, when a cop asked you to do something you should do it. If what they ask you to do is illegal you can always sue the fuckers, go to the press, file an IA report and otherwise make the cop’s life miserable

      You actually think cops give a shit about any of that? No wonder you’re a socialist; that level of naivety is pretty much a prerequisite.

    3. Shorter AmSoc: “Now I’m an authority worshiping cop sucker douchebag, at least until the next RETHUGLIKKAN gets into the Oval Office. And I like it when people I dislike are abused by police. SLURP, SLURP, SLURP! Mmmm, that’s good cop cock!”

      Go fuck yourself, asshole.

    4. Cops would probably take you’re desire to flip them in the jail with the criminals set free, along with your racism, as juistification for deadly force.

    5. You’re so cute thinking individuals have lawful recourse against government.

  4. Cop: Neat! How many times do we have to zap the perps before we kill them?

  5. A bad cop with a Taser is still a bad cop.

    Which won’t be fixed until something is done to reform the culture of unaccountability that police unions have created. Something that Chapman doesn’t even bother mentioning.

    1. Exactly, because any government entity has a long and proud tradition of taking any power it acquires and abusing it beyond all recognition.

      Sure, let’s give the police a weapon they see as nonlethal, and therefore ‘safe’. The city would go bankrupt paying for the electricity to recharge them.

      PS: I wonder how many Chicago pols have an ownership stake in a company that makes tasers?

  6. If all the cops in Chicago are given tasers, it won’t translate to more safety. Instead, it will lead to taserings and their associated dangers happening much more frequently because of the perceived safety of the devices. Break the power of the Chicago police unions and police violence will drop. Until that difficult undertaking is achieved, you’re just pissing in the wind.

    Chapman’s just being open-minded about this because he doesn’t want to tear into Emanuel too harshly.

  7. Steve Chapman needs to fall into a woodchipper.

  8. Cops don’t need any reason to think you are a threat, they might simply not like the way you look, then out comes the taser. You could be lifting your hand to scratch your nose- ZAP!

    I think a rigorous psychological test needs to be administered to all police recruits and current officers, those who show any sociopathic or sadistic tendencies should be let go. Also, how many cops are on drugs like amphetamines or steroids that cause aggressive behavior? My guess is lots, so there should be routine testing and zero tolerance.

  9. The Taser was sold to the public as a non-deadly alternative to deadly force. Therefore, the Taser must never be used in situations where a cop would not be justified in using deadly force.

    The best solution is what I call the Copper Rule because it applies to coppers.

    Part One:Whatever is the maximum a human being could get for doing it to a copper, that’s the minimum a copper must get for doing that same thing to a human being. Now, what’s the maximum a human being could get for throwing a flash grenade into a patrol car and badly burning a copper? That’s the minimum the coppers must get for throwing that flash grenade into the playpen of Bounkham Phonesavanh in Cornelia, Georgia on 28 May 2014. Crimes by coppers are worse. If any humans fight back, a whole lot of coppers will swarm in. It is often illegal to fight back, even when the coppers are in the wrong, and the coppers sure do enforce that law.

    Part Two: A human being is innocent until proven guilty, and a copper is guilty until proven innocent. Coppers control the collection of evidence and it is their job to prove cases. They know, better than the average human being, what evidence to collect. Human beings are often scared of getting “caught” video-recording the coppers. The copper that shoved a toilet plunger up a guy’s rear end got the conviction overturned on the grounds of insufficient evidence, and how was the victim supposed to collect the evidence?

  10. What Chicago needs are some spankings.

  11. I’m shocked that there are no stupid taser puns in this discussion.

  12. Fear is the enemy of reason. The police and there union contracts operate above the law. They have contracts that allow the police to execute people they deem worthless and receive paid lifetime vacations with benefits courtesy of the taxpayers. The police unions will threaten to kill anyone that tries to expose there criminal enterprises. The police unions and the FOP operate a criminal organization just like the mafia. With the help of the media which bases 90% of its programming to repeat word for word the police narrative without any investigation so be mindful of your news source.

  13. I imagine Chicago police would welcome taser equipment because they will be able to enforce their orders and will on recalcitrant drunks and others who are unwilling to obey or may be dangerous. Tasers are a middle way between reasoning and some form of personal force or lethal force.

    Tasers will quickly become the implement of choice in dealing with almost every kind of police/citizen disputation that cannot be resolved with words alone. Once the word gets around that the cops are impossible to push around, the incidents will decrease

  14. Google pay 97$ per hour my last pay check was $8500 working 1o hours a week online. My younger brother friend has been averaging 12k for months now and he works about 22 hours a week. I cant believe how easy it was once I tried it out.
    This is wha- I do…… ?????? http://www.buzznews99.com

  15. Google pay 97$ per hour my last pay check was $8500 working 1o hours a week online. My younger brother friend has been averaging 12k for months now and he works about 22 hours a week. I cant believe how easy it was once I tried it out.
    This is wha- I do…… ?????? http://www.buzznews99.com

  16. My last pay check was $9500 working 12 hours a week online. My sisters friend has been averaging 15k for months now and she works about 20 hours a week. I can’t believe how easy it was once I tried it out. This is what I do..

    Clik This Link inYour Browser….

    ? ? ? ? http://www.WorkPost30.Com

  17. Tazers are essentially cattle prods turned into projectiles. There’s no better way for government to illustrate they consider the people owned cattle. Tazers are often lethal force. Besides heart issues they cause someone to drop with no ability to protect their head from smacking pavement or other objects. People have suffered lethal brain injuries this way. I’d be surprised if tazer use actually cuts down on shootings. More likely it gives sadistic cops something they can torture people with at will usually with no evidence left behind. It’d be really interesting to see whether shootings by police have actually lowered since the introduction of tazers. My guess would be cops just use them as an alternative to talking to people now in their quest for dominance and control.

  18. I saw a clip where cops shot a guy because he was still moving while being tazed and the reason he was moving was because the tazing was causing involuntary spasms. So I guess it’s taze ’em first so they’re safe to shoot.

  19. Mr Chapman,
    Your point may have merit and more tasers may lead to less deaths (or not) but you and other writers at Reason would serve the public far more, and your writing would make a far bigger impact, if you could convince young black men to stop raping, robbing, assaulting, shooting, and killing so many people of every race, including other blacks, which are the largest victim group of violent crime by blacks, by a large margin. Police shootings pale by comparison by many orders of magnitude.
    Last I checked, 50 percent of this nation’s violent crime is committed by this small percentage of the population. While the black community in general commits an exponentially high amount of crime, far more than any other racial group (per capita at the very least and often just straight up more), the violent crime is exponentially larger than the suffering blacks receive from police in modern times. I know Reason loves to speak truth to power (who doesn’t) and poor blacks historically lack much political power while the police have much more. In the end, any success you achieve in regards to lowering police shootings won’t amount to hill of beans compared to the carnage blacks inflict on themselves. That doesn’t justify any ILLEGAL police shootings, which are EXCEEDINGLY RARE, but it does justify more attention to the topic of black criminality as it relates to societal suffering if you care about making a significant impact over just pandering.

  20. Let’s tazer Rahm multiple times and see how he likes it…should be entertaining as hell

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