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The case against Tasers

October 30, 2017

By Barbara Attard : 48hills – excerpt

They often don’t work, when they do they can be deadly – and they don’t stop cops from shooting people

On Friday, November 3, 2017 at 5:00 p.m. at City Hall the San Francisco Police Commission will be holding its last public hearing on purchasing stun guns for San Francisco police officers. Although there has been much discussion on the topic, there remain many misconceptions about the weapon under consideration and its potential impact on policing in the city.

I’ve heard many people – young and old – say that they’d rather be stunned than shot with a bullet. This is a logical response. Unfortunately it’s based on misunderstandings about how conducted electrical weapons (CEWs) work.

Even the San Francisco Police Officers Association (POA) has repeatedly asserted after officer-involved shootings that SF police officers need CEWs to use as an alternative to guns.

To be clear, CEWs cannot be substitutes for guns because there are inherent limitations in how they function that render them unreliable for being used in deadly force situations.

The leading manufacturer of CEWs specifically states in its training materials, “CEWs do NOT replace deadly-force options.” Most departments that have CEWs instruct officers NOT to use them in deadly force situations because they cannot be relied upon to stop a threat.  Many factors can cause the CEW be ineffective – how thick the person’s clothing is, whether both probes hit the person, and whether the CEWs electrical charge captures enough muscle to incapacitate, to name a few…

Barbara Attard is a police accountability consultant, former president of the National Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement (NACOLE), and co-author of the Police Misconduct Complaint Investigations Manual... (more)


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