Is the Use of Tasers a Necessity

Name Essay Course Teacher Date Tasers: A Necessity In a society where crime exists such as robbers, burglars, shoplifters, or worse, black market sellers of drugs, electronic devices or designer products. Law enforcement is needed to maintain order which requires a method that is effective to apprehend suspects while keeping injuries to a minimum instead of using guns to solve every situation. Luckily the adoption of Tasers – by industry standards as electronic controlled device (ECD) or Conducted Energy Weapon (CEW) – allows the law enforcement to apprehend a suspect without having to involve themselves in a close-range combative battle.

Charlie Mesloh, a university professor at Florida Gulf Coast, Mark Henych, a researcher at Advanced Research Solutions, and Ross Wolf, a criminal justice professor at the University of Central Florida claim that the Tasers is a less-lethal weapon that inflicts a current of electricity throughout the body of the individual which temporarily causes the loss of muscle control (25). TASER International, the inventors of ECD claims this as Neuromuscular Incapacitation (NMI) (1).

TASER International asserts, “[t]he human nervous system communicates with simple electrical impulses . . . TASER technology uses similar electrical impulses to cause stimulation of the sensory and motor nerves” (1). Though there are many controversies on the use of Tasers in BC, it is still a much needed device to keep the community safe. Tasers has been shunned upon by many people in British Columbia because of the story’s circulating around and all the news reports on this tiny device.

The most famous and memorable story would be the incident that happened at the Vancouver International Airport to Robert Dziekanski. CBC news reports that the video is in three segments, the first segment shows Dziekanski before police arrives being very agitated and yelling in Polish and seems to be very nervous, the second segment shows Dziekanski picking up a computer then throwing it to the ground, then “[t]hree airport personnel arrive and block the exit from the secure area, but Dziekanski retreats inside and does not threaten them” (#).

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The third and final segment shows four RCMP officers arriving on scene and “can be heard mentioning the word Tasers” (#). Someone can also be heard responding “Yes” to the question (#). Police have said repeatedly that there were only three RCMP officers involved in the incident, but the video shows four men in RCMP uniforms. People in the lounge can be heard clearly telling the police Dziekanski speaks no English, only Russian. His mother later said he only spoke Polish. Police enter the secure area with no problems and an be seen with Dziekanski standing calmly talking with officers. They appear to direct him to stand against a wall, which he does. As he is standing there, one of the officers shoots him with a Taser . . . officers have also said police did not use pepper spray because of the large number of people at the airport at the time. But the video shows Dziekanski standing alone with the four officers in an otherwise empty area, which is separated from the public area by a thick glass wall. (CBC #)

After the Taser shots, the sound from Dziekanski stopped and became silent, an officer can be heard saying, “code red” after checking on his condition and “minutes later, ambulance attendants arrived but their efforts to revive Dziekanski were unsuccessful and he was declared dead” (#). There are also other incidents that has happened in the past few years and there are definitely cases of misuse with this device which brings about the misconception people get from Tasers, but even though some tragic events happen, it is still one of the safest alternative to bring a healthy environment to everyone.

There are people who strongly believe Tasers should be banned, however, banning Tasers will only result in more injuries during arrests. David Hambling, a respected free lance writer on technology and military states, “[a] recent study in the American Journal of Public Health looked at 24, 000 cases in which police officers had used force, including Tasers, pepper spray, batons and manual methods . . . the study found that Taser use reduced the overall risk of injury by 65 percent.

In other words, restricting Taser use could triple the number of injuries caused in this sort of incident” (1). Misconceptions on the use of Taser led to a comment by a person who goes by the name “the disturber” on CBC news website, he says, “what’s wrong with people when they [start] using devices that can pump out over 1500 volts for self defence that’s just not cool. [D]oesn’t any one remember the guy who got [tasered] 5 times at the air port because he wasn’t “co-operating” with the security; wasn’t he killed because of the shock? I] think that they should be banned from use for a less [lethal] item like pepper spray” (#). Pepper sprays can not be used in closed areas because it will effect innocent bystanders, also, as Jim Wilkinson, the Vice President of the site Your Greatest Protection declares, “[pepper spray] works longer than Tasers or stun guns, it will cause coughing and choking, and it burns really bad . . . [s]tun guns work by disabling the nervous and the muscular system but only for a few moments. Pepper spray works by causing pain, blindness, and choking for up to 30 minutes” (1).

Tasers only neutralize the suspect for several seconds which allows police to seize the suspect in that time and wouldn’t cause the suspect to suffocate for “30 minutes. ” Additionally, there are also many cases where the misuse of pepper spray also caused deaths. Just one mistake with the Taser will bring many people to disagree with the product, but if Taser were really banned, the law enforcement will be forced to use close-range strategies or guns just like in the video Back From The Brink, where Suisun City had to use 52% of the police budget to try and handle the problems in the crime-ridden crescent (video).

Any sort of weapons can result in injuries if not used properly, Tasers included, but if used effectively, it will be the best weapon out there to safely neutralize a suspect and bringing a safe community. The incidents revolving around Tasers has angered the general public and as a result, the RCMP invoked strict new rules and training effective May of 2010. The Tasers operational manual provided by the RCMP states, “[m]embers certified to use the CEW must re-certify annually . . . m]embers whose CEW certification has lapsed must not use the CEW operationally until the re-certification training has been completed” (1). Every part of the Taser is also approved by the RCMP before being released in public. RCMP members must verbally let the subject know the CEW is about to be deployed (3). Additionally, whenever a member takes a CEW it must be thoroughly checked for damages, if no damages are found, a spark test will be conducted, if damages were found, it will be removed with haste and sent to qualified personnel’s (4).

Any time the CEW is used it will be recorded down and supervisors will be notified (4). Many strict rules were set in motion to ensure the safety of the user and the subject as well as strict training methods to make the misuse of this product nonexistent. The operational manual also educates that “[m]ultiple deployment or continuous cycling of the CEW may be hazardous to a subject. Unless situational factors dictate otherwise, members must not cycle the CEW for more than 5 seconds on a subject and will avoid multiple deployments” (3).

These new rules and regulations allow for members to thoroughly know the Tasers and assures the correct methods of use is performed. Tasers has been a very controversial device throughout Canada, especially when RCMP officers handle them. The major issue surrounding Tasers is that the citizens feel Tasers is a form of torture while others feel it is a necessary device to keep the community safe.

Tasers could be lethal if used the wrong way, but even then Tasers will still be much safer compared to a gun as well as more incapacitating than the pepper spray, also would not cause suffocation to the suspect at hand. If Tasers were taken away, it will only result in more injuries given to the suspect or the officer. When an officer uses the Taser, they must show that their actions were reasonable and just, but good training, as always, is the key to effective use of Taser and to keep our neighborhood friendly. (1446 words)

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