WHAT SHOULD I BE DOING INSTEAD OF THIS?
 
October 2nd, 2012 By German Lopez | News | Posted In: News, Police

Taser Study Finds Problematic Policies in Hamilton County

At least 16 county agencies deploy outdated Tasers

taser

A study on Taser use in Hamilton County released Oct. 1 by a local law firm that has represented Taser victims in the past four years seeks to shed light on the problems behind Taser use in the county and nationwide.

The study, which looked at 39 law enforcement agencies around Hamilton County through public record requests, listed a few key findings:

  • Out of the 39 agencies, 33 use Tasers.
  • 94% of agencies’ materials do not adequately warn that Tasers can capture the heart rhythm of the subject, possibly leading to death.
  • 67% of policies permit upper chest shots despite the manufacturer’s warning moving the preferred target zone away from the upper chest.
  • 70% of policies do not instruct officers to consider the seriousness of the crime before deciding whether or not to use the Taser.
  • 33% policies do not specifically instruct officers to consider the risk of secondary impact of falling from an elevated surface subsequent to Taser use. 
  • 27% of policies do not restrict Taser use on vulnerable populations such as juveniles, elderly individuals, or the visibly pregnant despite the increased risk associated with those populations. 
  • 100% of policies fail to require that Tasers output be tested to ensure that the actual performance of the device is within manufacturer’s specifications. 
  • 73% of policies do not require an investigation that includes a data download from the Taser’s memory chip after use to independently verify the number and duration of shocks delivered to the subject. 
  • 15% of policies explicitly authorize officers to use their Taser on a fleeing subject, regardless of the crime or the threat to the public. 
  • At least 16 of the agencies deploy Tasers that are older than their estimated useful life. 
  • Two agencies that deploy Tasers maintain no Taser-specific policy.
  • One agency deploys Tasers even though the agency’s policy prohibits their use

The study also pointed out that the tension behind Taser use “does not exist only in the abstract,” referencing the more than 500 deaths involving Taser use in the United States.

Al Gerhardstein, the local attorney behind the study, hopes the findings will lead to a change in Taser policies around the county.

Tasers, which get their name off the company that manufactures them, are supposed to be nonlethal weapons. They work by firing two barbs into a subject. The barbs then penetrate the target's skin and deliver a shock of high voltage, causing temporary paralysis. The weapons are supposed to allow police officers to subdue a dangerous target without resorting to potentially lethal force. The most common Taser model is the X26.

On Sept. 18, the Cincinnati Police Department established new guidelines for Taser use, which the department now says are adequate for dealing with the problems found in Gerhardstein’s study. The new policy disallows the use of frontal shots except in situations involving self-defense and the defense of others, reinforces the fact officers need to make sure force is necessary and specifically points out people have been injured due to Taser use in the past.

 
 
 
 
Close
Close
Close