Better regulation and stricter guidelines could turn this problem around, says the NYCLU

The New York Civil Liberties Union has released a report claiming that New York police officers are using Tasers inappropriately.

NYCLU's report, called "Taking Tasers Seriously: The Need for Better Regulation of Stun Guns in New York," studied 851 taser incident reports from eight New York police departments. Tasers are electroshock weapons that use electrical current to halt voluntary control of muscles. If shocks are prolonged, they can lead to injury or death.

In addition to analyzing incident reports, NYCLU requested the policies and guidelines for using Tasers from 10 New York police departments for comparison purposes.

According to the report, 60 percent of reported Taser incidents did not meet guidelines that limit the use of Tasers to situations where physical aggression is involved. It also found that 75 percent of reported incidents did not involve verbal warnings before the use of a Taser, which is required under expert recommendation.

The report also found that 40 percent of Taser incidents involved "at-risk subjects" such as children and the elderly; over one-third of Taser incidents involved prolonged shocks, even though this can be fatal; over 25 percent of Taser incidents involve shocks directly to a citizen's chest, even though guidelines advise against it; 15 percent of reports involved people who were armed, and another 15 percent of Taser incidents were clearly labeled as inappropriate, where officers used the weapon on those who were already restrained by other methods such as handcuffs.

In addition, the NYCLU report discovered that people of color are more likely to be Taser victims. According to the report, 58 percent of Taser victims were black or Latino.

"Our analysis shows that police officers are using Tasers in inappropriate, irresponsible and downright deadly manner," said Donna Lieberman, NYCLU executive director. "This disturbing pattern of misuse and abuse endangers lives. Law enforcement agencies that choose to use Tasers must adopt clear and effective policies governing their use, and they must do so without delay."

The NYCLU is looking to turn this Taser issue around in the following three ways:

Law enforcement agencies throughout the state must reform use-of-force policies and Taser training programs to comply with nationally recognized expert guidelines.

The state government must play an active role in promoting and achieving universal adoption of these expert-recommended policies and guidelines, and in ensuring that local agencies coordinate their Taser policies and training programs.

The state government and local law enforcement agencies must require accurate, complete reporting and robust monitoring of Taser use.

The NYCLU made an exception in its report, saying that the NYPD has complied with Taser policies and guidelines. But others throughout the state have not, leading to the death of over a dozen New York citizens "in recent years."

Do some police officers abuse their rights as authorities? Of course. Just look at the last year of reports regarding the taping of law enforcement. Police officers have handled certain situations inappropriately in the past, and when the public would videotape them using cameras or mobile phones, officers began arresting those doing the filming. Police officers felt they shouldn't be videotaped while on duty, even though in some cases, they were partaking in some form of police brutality.

In August of this year, the First Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that citizens had the right to videotape police officers while they're on duty.

What I'm saying is, I wouldn't be too surprised if police officers were abusing the use of Tasers to an extent considering the fact that there have been past issues with some police departments.

What do you think?

Source: NYCLU

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