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Sunday, August 16, 2015

Taser Comes To Town

(C) 2015 Luke T. Bush

PLATTSBURGH CITY, NY – Aug. 16, 2015

Citizen T (to use an appropriate pseudonym) had a life-changing experience after being tased.

He hates cops.  Intensely.

Lend him an ear and the vehemence behind his police criticism is evident.  He says that he was unjustifiably tased by Plattsburgh City police officers during an encounter.  Until recently most people hadn’t heard about such incidents.

A handheld Taser can discharge its electrical jolt directly or from some distance by shooting wired darts.  The subject suffers NMI, neuromuscular incapacitation, AKA violent muscle spasms.  The experience is summed up with the phrase "It hurts like hell."  Such use is described as pain compliance.

(Note: I’m assuming the city police are using TASER International brand units due to the company’s dominant market share. There are other companies out there in the ECD – electronic control device – industry.  The term “electronic control device” has a nice euphemistic quality, suggestive of a harmless TV remote control as opposed to an electrical weapon that knocks the shit outta ya.)

Stories and rumors about tasing incidents are circulating.  Word on the street is that tasing is being over applied in Plattsburgh City.  Any truth to it?  Who knows since the municipal police department only investigates itself.

Yes, law enforcement officers need to be armed.  The Officer Down Memorial Page lists 2014 Line of Duty Deaths with 47 killed by gunfire

But as reported in the news an officer can overreact especially when using the latest weapons.  At times it can be a problem of “The Boys Playing With New Toys” syndrome.

TASER International states its product is safer than bullets (lead or rubber).  And it adds compared to wrestling someone to the ground tasing is still safer.

But some civilians claim that they were still physically mistreated after collapsing.  Apparently tasing isn't the one-shot-does-it-all solution with every encounter.  Cops might have to use fists and feet to control a shocked suspect. 

Some deaths have occurred after tasing.  Taser defenders say that this doesn't happen just from the weapon: a dead suspect had compromised health do to illegal drug use.  He would die just as easily from a bullet wound.

At its website the American Civil Liberties Union states that 500 people since 2001 have died from being tased.  Tasers No Longer a Non-Lethal Alternative for Law Enforcement. ]

Circulation, a journal published by the American Heart Association, offers a study with the self-explanatory title “Sudden Cardiac Arrest and Death Associated with Application of Shocks from a TASER Electronic Control Device.”

Originally called non-lethal Tasers are now being referred to as “less lethal.”

Besides death there’s the issue of severe injuries.

As part of their training officers are tased to know what the experience is like.  Some of these officers from across the US have filed lawsuits, alleging they suffered injuries including fractured backs.    

To address the issue locally a public forum is being planned with the Plattsburgh City PD.  A location and time haven't been announced.  Such a forum would discuss proper Taser training and use plus the safety claims.  Also there will be discussion of the formation of a police conduct review board which would include citizen members.

The forum could be an opportunity to look beyond rumors and get the real story.

If not then unverified word on the street will have to suffice.


Blogger Debra Buell said...

This is a disturbing development in such a small city. I do not believe that we have the crime rate or the criminal control problems (control of the criminal through less violent means) that the addition of this equipment would dictate. We have a small city that collects more in asset forfeiture funds, equipment, vehicles, boats and personal property than much larger cities like Troy and Albany (yes, I can prove this by showing any asker documentation from the US Dept. of Justice). This "disease" of asset forfeiture relates to a nationwide epidemic of police using their skills to take anything that "looks like" it might be related to or near a drug crime legally. People can't defend against the forfeiture without filing a full out lawsuit and most who are affected do not have the means. This means that if your neighbor is doing or dealing drugs and you happened to be in the apartment or home one day when that happened, your property can be seized and sold. These monies, across the United States, are being used to fund police purchases of massive amounts of equipment that may or may not be needed. Interestingly, the highest crime areas are NOT the ones going overboard with these types of seizures of assets...they're being watched too closely by the US Dept. of Justice to get away with that. Plattsburgh does not need tasers and more means for the Police to brutalize people....

1:09 PM  

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