On a soap box about Tasers

Now when I get on the soap box, I will preface it with a sentence like this: This is my opinion, not the opinion of anyone at work or home with the exception of Roxy, my Rottweiler, born of Satan and who stalks her portly victims at night in order to bring them to our weekly satanic rituals—okay, enough—after all, she’s finally learned whose yards to poop in so my revenge is sweeeeett! Anyway, like I said, this is my opinion — so go fish.

The U.S. population in 2008 is said to be 303,824,640. According to the 2007 FBI UCR (Uniform Crime Reporting) reports, (2008 stats are still preliminary), there were 14,831 homicides in the U.S. Of that, 11,618 were men, 3,177 were women and 36 were considered unknown. Obviously women spend a great deal more time solving problems and learning some degree of restraint.

That year there were 855,856 aggravated assaults in the U.S. The FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program defines aggravated assault as an unlawful attack by one person upon another for the purpose of inflicting severe or aggravated bodily injury. The Program further specifies that this type of assault is usually accompanied by the use of a weapon or by other means likely to produce death or great bodily harm.

The big picture here is that this is a violent county, like it or not. It’s the way it is. Whether or not you are for gun control, the fact is guns are easy to acquire, especially illegally. We take guns from people who we arrest every single night. In almost all drug arrests where a significant amount of drugs are confiscated, guns are also seized—not pea shooters, serious weapons. Robberies in the metro area are so common it’s rare that you watch the news and not see a report where someone pulled a semi-auto pistol and robbed a convenient store or pedestrian or even the pizza deliver driver—sometimes just for the pizza.

In 2007, fifty-seven police officers were killed by felonious acts in 51 separate states.

Texas alone saw nine police officers killed that year. This is a dangerous business and violence is a daily occurrence. Most metro-area police officers, in the course of a career, have either had a deadly force incident where they had to use a firearm or have been on the brink of one. You would be surprised at how many times an officer, during a confrontation, has had white knuckles on the trigger — meaning at the brink of firing the weapon because a directed threat at them was in the “deadly” category. In other words, if there were stats on “close calls,” it would surprise you. The picture I’m painting here is that this job is very, very dangerous. It’s interesting and it’s at time fun and bizarre and crazy but above all it’s dangerous. I don’t know any veteran officers who haven’t had the trip to the hospital with cuts, gunshot wounds or broken bones at one point or another in their career. Spend a few years in this business and you’ll bury a friend. It goes on and on and it seems there’s no end to violence.
I know, I know—get to the point.

The Cobb County Commission has voted to purchase tasers for their police officers.

My response: Good for them!

Like them or not, tasers are one of the greatest law enforcement tool—not counting spell-check, that I’ve seen in the 245 years that I’ve been in the business.

Tasers kept many an idiot—I’m talking stupid, bottom dwelling, no-good filthy scum-sucking criminals (you get the picture?) alive because that officer had that option, opposed to the .45 caliber on the other side of the gunbelt.

Ever been in a fight where you knew the other guy really, really wanted to hurt you bad—as in kill you?

Deadly force is the last straw. It’s you-or-me-time. It’s when talking, ordering, trying to reason, and all that is out the window and that person is still trying to kill you, then its time to reach for Mister Glock. When you have the opportunity to stop something before it gets to that point, the taser is by far the most effective option.

I have one. Our officers carry one. Two of the officers on my squad had to utilize them on back to back days a couple of months ago.

In one case, a man was being arrested by an officer. He refused commands and made a couple of threatening moves towards the officer while she was trying to handcuff him. She backed off and repeated the commands a couple of times but he continued to move in towards her. Finally she pulled the taser and told the man she would use it but he continued toward her. She shot the taser and he went down. The threat ended.

The following day, an officer was answering a call where a meth-head had been evicted but was stealing electricity from the apartment next door. As the officer approached the door, the apartment employee told him the man had a very aggressive pit bull that he believed to be in the apartment. The officer pulled the taser and then opened the door. Sure enough, the dog was there and immediately lunged at the officer, biting his left hand that he raised to protect himself with. As the dog lunged, the officer shot the dog in the belly with the taser. The dog immediately let go and fell.

During the fall, he broke the prongs so the taser’s connection was broken. The dog ran back into the apartment. He had just managed to get his teeth on the officer’s hand when he was hit with the taser prongs. The officer ended up with minor bite injuries. The dog was not injured. The dog was turned over to the animal control officers and the meth-head went to jail.

The dog would have severely injured that officer’s hand and arm had he not used that taser. He would have been fully justified to use his Glock since that dog was big and immediately tried to attack him.

The taser is a tool that comes with the training and responsibility associated with it. Used as it is intended, it is a great officer-safety tool.

Training, responsibility, and discipline are required for all police officers who are given the responsibility of doing that job. You can Youtube taser incidents and see some pretty poor judgment and believe me, not using any tool, including a taser, in the way it is designed to be used, will get you fired and justly so. What you don’t find on Youtube however, are the hundreds and hundreds of incidents where the taser was deployed effectively, causing the bad guy to disengage. If you’ve ever been in a fight where you had a lot to lose—like your LIFE, the magic word is “disengage.”

When a 300-pound man refuses commands during an arrest or a drug-saturated man goes crazy in the middle of the road or someone decides that they’re ready for a fight, the taser will end it. They will “disengage.” They can sometimes fight through pepper spray but you cannot fight through the taser hit. The perp disengages. That’s the bottom line.

Like all officers who carry it in our department, I got shot with the taser during the training rounds. Oddly enough, I found I could make sounds that I never knew possible—something between Chewbacca and Slim Whitman. There was no way though, that I could fight through it.

The critics go on and on and personally for me, they can bark until they turn blue given that most have no first-hand experience, the old seat at the table if you will, but if you’re in the fight and that’s the way to end it without deadly force and without getting yourself seriously hurt or killed, then that’s what you’re going to want on your belt.

43 comments Add your comment

Ed gordon

May 4th, 2009
8:38 pm

Not to mention how much better cop reality shows have gotten since the introduction of the taser. =) If every officer using them has to be shocked by them, that pretty much shows that the department is confident in their safety. The criticism seems unfounded based on a small percentage of people tased that already had pretty serious health conditions. I think the lesson here really is, ‘if you have had triple bypass surgery, it is not safe to break into a liquor store and then brandish a knife at the cops who come to lock you up’.

Got it!

May 5th, 2009
10:46 am

Georgie Firearms License… ’nuff said.

Jimbo

May 5th, 2009
11:03 am

I did a paper on this recently, comparing guns a tasers for personal defense. The arguments for a taser were convincing, but it’s very telling that cops carry a taser in addition to a gun.

Taylor

May 5th, 2009
2:10 pm

51 states? I think I know what you mean, but come on…

nana

May 5th, 2009
2:20 pm

I would bet that if the families of the people killed by cops as they were posing a lethal danger to the cop had the choice these families would choose that the cops tase their loved ones rather than pull the trigger of a handgun.
I would guess that cops carry a taser and a gun because they typically run up on more than one or two “bad guys” when a handgun is needed as once the cartridge on a taser is used it’s over. Another cartridge must be put into the taser gun.

Mike

May 5th, 2009
2:22 pm

Tasers give cops more options, with is a good thing. They can be letal, but tasers kill far less frequently than guns.

“In 2007, fifty-seven police officers were killed by felonious acts in 51 separate states. Texas alone saw nine police officers killed that year.”

The math doesn’t work on this statistic – assuming your “51-st state” is DC, this still leaves 46 killings occurring in 50 states.

Sharon

May 5th, 2009
2:31 pm

I’ve been seriously considering purchasing a taser, this article helps with my decision making.

Gary

May 5th, 2009
2:33 pm

Like “Got it!” said Georgia Firearms license……….locked and loaded.

jan

May 5th, 2009
2:37 pm

Tasers are okay if used properly. There have been many cases of officers using these devices improperly. Especially on a person that is unarmed. A person that is possibly irrational and can’t calm down doesn’t need to be tasered into submission. This can kill a person. I have a pacemaker/defibrillator, I can’t imagine what a taser would do to me. Some people argue, well, the person should just listen. Well, you have to take into consideration the state of mind of the person. There may be a mental illness. There is no reason to taser, beat, or shoot an unarmed person that might just need a minute to calm down. Police training is key. Please, please, train these officers on what is too much and means of containing a person besides trying to electrocute them to death.

Ed, people with the type of heart condition that would be effected by a taser are not as obvious as a bypass patient. These are people with electrical abnormalities in their heart. Many people do not even know they have the problem, a taser can cause the heart to misfire or set off someone who has a heart arrhythmia. I was born with mine. I could die suddenly without a pacemaker and implanted defibrillator, I’m sure a taser would really mess me up. The manufacturers “claim” they are safe. The officers should also carry defibrillators and be trained to resuscitate.

Andy in Blairsville

May 5th, 2009
3:08 pm

I would rather see the state loosen up the justification for deadly force myself. Less criminals to prosecute, house and feed.

Ed

May 5th, 2009
3:08 pm

This is Atlanta, we have so many thugs waiting to rob, home invade and car jack you they fight over victims. You can carry a taser but for myself I like a Sig 9 mm on my person, a GLOCK 9 mm in the truck and a couple of 12 gauge shotguns at the house. We’ll be leaving this city as soon as I retire to a place a lot safer, where elected officials have your safety in mind and they do more than name a street downtown after some dead person that means nothing to me. You use your taser, I’ll use my Sig. It’s all good as long as the good guys come out ahead.

Jenny

May 5th, 2009
3:10 pm

I agree tasers are the way to go and as for people with conditions DON’T GIVE OFFICERS A REASON TO NEED TO USE IT!

MrLiberty

May 5th, 2009
3:12 pm

Tasers have just turned into an amusement toy for police to get out their violent agressions on innocent citizens without the complicating paperwork that killing them outright would lead to. Dozens of people are being killed by the random and unwarranted use of these devices. So long as they are considered as “non-lethal”, it is little more than a free license to abuse the use of them.

When kids are being tased at schools you know the problem is out of hand.

Free market solutions to security and protection, an end to the War on Drugs, and a restoration of the constitution and Bill of Rights would go a long way to making everyone in our society safer but none of those things is going to happen if we have to count on those in power to implement them.

It is no surprise that a cop sides with this horrible weapon and it is no surprise that the beer guzzling, pizza eating fans of “cops” and other pro-government force shows applaud the use of these devices. It is unfortunate that our country has turned the wrong corner on it fast decline into a police state.

P

May 5th, 2009
3:33 pm

Jenny, that’s a very ignorant comment. You’re a poor excuse for an American.

Ed

May 5th, 2009
3:38 pm

Mr. Liberty, I guess you have no problem with all the thugs running around this city willing to kill you for a few dollars. I suppose it’s all the cops fault that you can’t turn on your televison without seeing some punk kid in dreads arrested and his sorry momma crying how the cops done got her son. It’s all make believe I suppose. Mr Liberty, I bet the world will smell better to you when you pull your head out from your arse.

Melinda

May 5th, 2009
3:43 pm

Tasers at school? That is exactly where they need them. When you get a 14 year old kid that is 6′4″ and 250 lbs out of control. Taz his butt. Or a mouthy teenage girl with no respect – taz her butt. It will only take a few times and all those bad little kids will be scared into behaving once again. In fact give one to each and every teacher. Get out of line, get tazd… Speak out of turn, get tazd. No homework – 2 tazes…Behaviour Problems will be gone in no time….

Melinda

May 5th, 2009
3:54 pm

Mr Liberty….You obviously have been very shielded in life. You MUST have never been exposed to the criminal elements of our society. These are NOT individuals that you can sit down and have a tea party with to discuss things. In many cases you are dealing with animals pure and simple. If these were gentle law abiding citizens, the police would not have to be there in the first place. The world is dangerous. I want the cops to have every bit of technology available to bring these criminals down. I don’t care how……..

nana

May 5th, 2009
3:59 pm

I’m not sure I agree with some of the posts about arbitrarily tasing unruly kids but then again maybe I’d feel different if I were a teacher and had to deal with some of them. My husband has been through taser instructor class (he’s not a cop) and has been tased two times with no effects afterwards. Again if I were a criminal or someone out of control due to any reason (God forbid) I would rather the cop taser me than shoot me dead. Dead is dead. I have a conceal carry license and do carry a gun but also my C2 Taser. Sometimes there’s no reason for deadly force if you don’t have to use it.

Got it!

May 5th, 2009
4:34 pm

Nana, if you live in GA you have a Georgia Firearms License. You are licensed to carry concealed or open. But most importantly, please keep carrying!

George

May 5th, 2009
4:36 pm

do some research. tasers kill people, and cops regularly abuse their power. pain compliance and tazing kids and elderly are all unacceptable.

Joe

May 5th, 2009
4:38 pm

Melinda is another prime example of a misled American brain-washed into fearing her neighbors by the corporate media. Quit supporting the police state out of misplaced fear.

Caz

May 5th, 2009
5:49 pm

In Florida we have prison guards tasering KIDS on “Take your child to work day.” I kid you not. http://www.newsherald.com.

Tiggster

May 5th, 2009
6:33 pm

If we use the number of people in the US from the article of 303,824,640, and round up the numbers associated with Taser deaths from +/-360 to lets say 400, that gives us a ratio of .00013% of the population would die during a taz. More people will die of AIDS, Cancer, and heart attacks!! I am not looking for people to die…but we really need to put the number of deaths associated with tasers in some actual numbers we can relate too! How many people have police officers shot in the last 2 years? Do the benefits justify the risk?

I do agree that I wouldnt use them on children…but lets be realistic…teach kids to fear tasers and guns and maybe there would be less criminal acts.

I would rather an officer have a taser than a gun when some drugged out creep attacks them with their bare hands. Get them the help they need and save some peice of mind that someone didnt die when it could have been prevented with a taser.

Whats the ratio of taser firings (personal or law enforcement) to the number of deaths?? Anyone have that answer…

Excited-Delirium.com

May 5th, 2009
7:20 pm

Tasers could, conceivably, in some imaginary world, be a force for good. Let me know when you find that planet. Back here on Earth, they do much evil. They’re used to torture on a daily basis. They’re used on those that fail to obey, such as diabetics in comas. They’re used on children. It’s laughable to claim that they replace guns (the oldest taser lie); they’re used about 100 times as often as police ever used their guns. The other lie is that they’re perfectly safe (seriously, that IS the claim with respect to internal risk factors such as cardiac or similar). People (not criminals) are dying.

Whoopee

May 5th, 2009
8:45 pm

Whether the recipent of a taze has a weapon or not is a moot point. I’m 6′6″ and 300 lbs. If I wanted to, I could really hurt someone (like, by sitting on them). My girth is not unique. I’ve been in fights with guys literally half my size, and they gave me a run for my money!! We’ve all seen fact stranger than fiction.

That said, should I be stupid enough to fight an officer, they have 2 choices: glock me or taze me. Hum. Hit me with a billy-club: my blubber cause a recoil the likes no one has seen!! Spray me with pepper: yum! How quickly can a half-dozen cops arrive at the scene and bail-out the one fighting me?? (BTW, I’m not going to fight a cop my size!) Again, the lone officer has 2 choices- glock or taser. I choose the latter, personally. Show me someone who choses the former, and that person has never been on the wrong end of an arrest.

Should they be used on students: well, is the student aggressive enough to warrent the taze? They’re crying on Oprah, but cursing and combative when confronted.

Here’s something I learned the hard way, don’t screw up, and if you do, don’t get caught. And if you do get caught, don’t fight the police. And if you do fight the police, pray the officer has a taser. And if they do have a taser, you live another day to write posts on some AJC blog.

nana

May 5th, 2009
8:50 pm

Excited-do you have a link to the person that was tased in a diabetic coma, I find that hard to believe. Actually there’s a lot of your post I find hard to believe do you have anything to back up your claims? Whoopee you are absolutely right on.

joseph

May 5th, 2009
11:09 pm

tiggster, your lack of statistical and basic mathematic knowledge is pretty frightening.

joseph

May 5th, 2009
11:15 pm

yay, whoopee! let’s embrace the police state and unquestioningly obey the commands of increasingly violent and militant police (even though anybody with half a brain realizes most cops lack the competence to make such decisions and in reality function as little more than armed tax collectors for their respective counties or municipalities). by the way, i’m 7′5″ and weigh 420 pounds.

bsolo

May 6th, 2009
8:49 am

black men keep getting shot by the crips eer I mean cops F@@k the police

Louis Deville

May 6th, 2009
9:09 am

The Taser is a marketing scheme. It offers re-packaged old technology that is unreliable and that can kill. It is not less lethal.

Robert

May 6th, 2009
9:25 am

In reference to Melinda’s post: until “d.e.f.a.c.s.” starts allowing teachers and parents alike, to discipline children as needed without fear of going to jail, or having them forcibly removed from their home to possibly be placed in a foster home in which the conditions may be far worse,There will be no improvement in youth violence.I for one will not spare the rod “when absolutly needed” and my 5 children are all modle citizens.

Robert

May 6th, 2009
9:46 am

ps: I have been tazed…About 10 years old.Dad said how about reaching back behind the fridge And unplugging it for me!220 volts, my hair grew back in a few weeks!

Jimbo

May 6th, 2009
3:39 pm

You know what else kills people? Peanut allergies! The deadly allergies kill about 100 people per year! We should ban the peanuts.

As for taser deaths, according to Dr Hugh Calkins (Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD) in this article here:
http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/587624

There have only been about 300 in-custody deaths in 650,000 applications of the TASER..

As far as I’m concerned, considering the stupid things people do to tempt fate every day, a 1 in 2166.7 chance isn’t bad odds.

As for “resisting the police state” it’s the job of the police to maintain order. You have a right to peaceably assemble and you don’t have a right to resist arrest. If you’re under arrest you get a day in court, that’s when the “fighting the power” is supposed to happen.

policewife

May 7th, 2009
1:11 pm

My husband is a police sergeant and had to be tased today in order to be able to certified to carry a taser. Even though it pained me for him to have to go through that, he helped me understand it is tool that he really has needed in many cases during his work. I wish all departments would issue them to their officers.

By the way, I really appreciate all you ladies and gents do to keep us safe. Thank you!

Jerry

May 8th, 2009
6:32 pm

Tiggster requested the number of folks that have been hit with a TASER device. Jusat over 1.5 million. Slightly over half of those were police officers taking a voluntry hit to be allow to carry. The rest were citizens resisting arrest (ok some will argue not resisting enough, but were you there?) Interestingly none of the police officers died as a result of being exposed to the TASER. Also interestingly enough none of the deaths blamed on the TASER have been proven to be caused by the TASER with the exception of falls and fires (both catagories unintended results of the force used). When someone dies after a TASER exposure, the headlines the very next day suggest another “TASER death”. It takes the medical examiner a lot longer to determine the true cause of death, but that headline does sell papers.

Charlie Cutshaw

May 8th, 2009
7:00 pm

BIG 10-4! When we got certified on Tasers, we all had to “ride the lightning.” All I can recall was “WHEN IS THIS S–T GOPING TO END!” It was only 3 seconds but seemed like an eternity. If there hadn’t been two officers supporting me, I’d have collapsed into a puddle on the ground!

Bobby dee

May 10th, 2009
7:10 pm

If you think Tasers are non-lethal and police use them only as a last resort, Please Google Otto Zehm. Cororner ruled a homicide. No one has been charged with the killing. My daughter knew the man.

AerialPursuit

May 20th, 2009
5:22 am

A proud certified operator of the X26, I rode the full five seconds and survived. I have done my research and believe the “Thomas A Swift Electric Riffle” is one of the best tools one can use to quickly calm a situation. The point is not to cause pain but to avoid a very difficult and painful situation for both the responding officer and the person being hit. The discomfort from being “tased” is gone, if not immediately then soon after the current stops. Is it fun? NO, but a lot better than a throw down on the side of the road which can cause serious permanent injury or death to the officer, suspect and innocent bystanders. All departments should issue and promote the use of this device to avoid serious conflict.

Michael

May 24th, 2009
1:20 pm

Tasers are used instead of the stick, not the gun. Consequently workers comp claims and time off the job have fallen as well. I bet if the female officer pulled the .45 on Bluto instead of the taser he would have stopped advancing.

Tom T

June 4th, 2009
6:34 pm

Even the threat of the taser has been enough here in our little department. We had a guy one night whacked out on God knows what, but when he saw those little red dots on his chest from the 3 tasers trained on him, his 4 remaining brain cells fired in synchronized fashion just long enough for him to realize that he really didn’t want to do the taser dance and fall to the ground.

On the downside, tasers are now available to John Q. Public in some areas. I see this as a problem. At the first sight of a bad guy brandishing a taser the officer is not going to have a choice but to have Mr. Glock do the double-tap center-mass boogie on said bad guy. The officer CANNOT take the chance of getting tased and relieved of his/her sidearm.

Bill White

June 9th, 2009
11:26 pm

So tell me. What did the cops use before the taser???
I for one hate gutless pantie wearing cops that use a taser on
unarmed people….

Devinchio Rogers

June 14th, 2009
12:22 am

To all the officers out there, thank you for your honorable service to our community. I know that there are some bad apples out there, as there are in any profession, but most of you deserve our respect and gratitude. You definitely have it from me.