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Tasers – alternative to death by cop

By John Hargreaves - 1 October 2014 28

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When I was in the Assembly, as a minister for these sorts of things, I wanted to do a trial to see if TASERs were an effective alternative to firearms.

The Liberal Opposition was vehemently opposed to the whole idea saying that the TASERs would kill more people from heart attacks than the conventional weapons carried by front line police officers.

I wanted to take the advice of the police themselves and also the interstate experience.

In the end, a successor minister ok’d the carrying of TASERs by sergeants with the development of protocols to make sure that they were not abused.

Enter the Diving Champions of the Assembly in recent times. Double backflip with pike!

The Libs now want all front line police officers to carry TASERs. Heavens, they are difficulty to predict and to work with in the interests of community safety.

My position though, is akin to those who want the firearms taken from police. The use of lethal force is really unnecessary in this town. There are other ways of subduing people if need be.

My position is drawn from the experience of a good mate of mine who lived in Chapman and was shot by police during a mental health episode. If the police had TASERs he would not be paraplegic now.

Word limits don’t allow me to go into this into much detail but I feel two frustrations. The first is that the Libs could have been more helpful earlier and not just grandstanding and the second is that I foresee the time when another person is killed or crippled unnecessarily in this town.

TASERs do have the potential to kill but they are not as guaranteed as a Glock! In the hands of the wrong and untrained they can be lethal some of the time. But Glocks have the potential to be lethal all of the time.

I just don’t reckon the level of crime in Canberra justifies the carrying of weapons by police everywhere, including to schools and in shopping centres.

Thoughts?

What’s Your opinion?


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28 Responses to
Tasers – alternative to death by cop
LSWCHP 6:27 pm 02 Oct 14

ScienceRules said :

neanderthalsis said :

My position though, is akin to those who want the firearms taken from police. The use of lethal force is really unnecessary in this town. There are other ways of subduing people if need be.

There have been cases in other jurisdictions where multiple uses of tasers and CS spray has failed to subdue a violent individual and lethal force has been employed. There is, of course, always the option of taking a non-lethal disabling shot to subdue an individual.

I do support all coppers having a variety of means to do their jobs effectively, if this means all officers having tasers, glocks and pick handles; then so be it.

No, “taking a non-lethal disabling shot…” is never an option. Not here or anywhere else in the country either.

Correct. I’ve been using firearms regularly for nearly 35 years, including competitive handgun shooting. Anybody who believes the Hollywood nonsense about shooting to wound etc etc simply doesn’t know how hard it is to hit something with a pistol, even under ideal circumstances. And following on from that, if you do hit something with your handgun, the results are *far* less effective in real life than what you’ll see depicted in the movies.

So….any attempt by a police officer to shoot to wound will most likely result in nothing more than a really p$ssed off opponent and a dead cop.

And in the Chapman shooting case that John mentioned, the individual involved was a very large man having a violent psychotic episode and armed with a martial arts training stick. He’d beaten one officer to the ground and knocked a baton from the hands of the officer who eventually shot him. A Taser might’ve been an option at the time, but if it didn’t work then without a firearm that officer would probably be dead.

The police have taken a fairly large number of illegal firearms off the streets in the last couple of years, but I have no doubt that there are a lot more out there. Just because they haven’t been used yet doesn’t mean that they might not be used tomorrow.

The ACT police do a great job under very difficult circumstances, so I’m quite happy to see them armed with handguns or whatever firearms they want.

ScienceRules 4:51 pm 02 Oct 14

Antagonist said :

Postalgeek said :

No cop should have to face an armed offender with just a taser.

Just out of interest, and I ask this question seriously, how often do ACT police encounter ‘armed offenders’ – that is, offenders with firearms or samurai sword for example, not just a knife or shank? And how many of those situations could be dealt with by calling in a specialised armed response unit, which I am pretty sure we have already? And finally, does that number justify police carrying firearms through places like the Hyperdome Food Court while the police are out getting their lunch?

The problem here is that all sworn officers have to be ready to handle this sort of situation at a moment’s notice. There is a specialist tactical response team but they take time to deploy so the notion of putting aside your firearm while getting lunch mearly reduces the effectiveness of the police presence.

It’s a difficult balance to be sure and I reckon we do it pretty well here in Australia. I’d hate to see the sort of police behaviour that’s common in the US but I also want our guys to have the tools that they need to do the job. As I’ve said, it’s rare for the police to use their appointments (batons, spray etc) and even more so to even draw a firearm but they should have the option if needed.

Sometimes these situations unfold in seconds and require an immediate, and sadly occasionally, lethal response.

house_husband 4:18 pm 02 Oct 14

Antagonist said :

Just out of interest, and I ask this question seriously, how often do ACT police encounter ‘armed offenders’ – that is, offenders with firearms or samurai sword for example, not just a knife or shank?

If on average it’s just once in a 30-40 year career then that is enough for every unarmed copper to be killed in the line of duty at least once. And how is a knife or shank any less lethal than a firearm or sword?

P.S. John we get that you still have Liberal issues but your continual cheap shots in almost every original post is bordering on petty.

Antagonist 9:32 am 02 Oct 14

Postalgeek said :

No cop should have to face an armed offender with just a taser.

Just out of interest, and I ask this question seriously, how often do ACT police encounter ‘armed offenders’ – that is, offenders with firearms or samurai sword for example, not just a knife or shank? And how many of those situations could be dealt with by calling in a specialised armed response unit, which I am pretty sure we have already? And finally, does that number justify police carrying firearms through places like the Hyperdome Food Court while the police are out getting their lunch?

Mysteryman 7:39 am 02 Oct 14

Tool said :

Dont let the truth get in the way of a good story, you and your counterparts were spineless and the approval for tasers only came about after a fatal shooting, had that not occurred the government would still be siding with the idiotic civil libertarians. Dont try and make yourself sound like some pioneer you weren’t.

Seems to be par for the course with old mate John. It’s at the stage where I can read the title of a thread and know he’s the creator without even opening it.

Postalgeek 8:26 pm 01 Oct 14

No cop should have to face an armed offender with just a taser.

The whole reason cops have Glocks is because revolvers couldn’t compete on the street as was demonstrated at Crescent Head in 1995 when two officers were outgunned and murdered. Reducing police capacity to defend themselves and citizens to a one-shot non-lethal don’t-miss-or-you’re-dead taser (3 shot tasers still fall short of the revolver let alone the Glock, and probe penetration failures is a whole other issue) is not the solution.

Tool 7:20 pm 01 Oct 14

Dont let the truth get in the way of a good story, you and your counterparts were spineless and the approval for tasers only came about after a fatal shooting, had that not occurred the government would still be siding with the idiotic civil libertarians. Dont try and make yourself sound like some pioneer you weren’t.

Antagonist 4:01 pm 01 Oct 14

justin heywood said :

Who would be a copper? When it all hits the fan, we expect them to come and deal with it. Huge drunken brawlers, half mad ice-addicts, assorted crazies with unknown weapons hidden or at hand, etc etc.

We expect the cops to sort out these dangerous situations on our behalf. Yet some here, who are at no risk themselves, think that THEY should decide what tools they need to do it.

Give them what they need. If they abuse the power, deal with it then.

Without turning this into a cop bashing session (they do a good job, and a dangerous one at that) remind us all what happened to the officer that used OC spray on a chained up dog while his cop mates cheered and filmed it on their phones? And you want to give these people a taser now?

ScienceRules 2:50 pm 01 Oct 14

fernandof said :

I think tasers are a good non-lethal option when used correctly, i.e., when there really are no better alternatives.

The issue I have with tasers is that too often it can lead to abuse as it is so easy to use, typically leaves no/little marks, and there’s a general consensus that it’s not really a big deal. Officers do tend to use it as a default option for pretty much any excuse. Not so much here (and @ScienceRules, it gives me great relief knowing our own officers aren’t infected in that stupid school of thought), but definitely around the world, particularly the US.

You know what works really well in ensuring police doesn’t abuse force (and I’m not suggesting they are)? Personal cameras. I think I’d be generally OK distributing tasers, as long as it’s accompanied with very strict usage regulation and enforcement of that regulation by means of personal cameras to police officers.

We’re halfway there, Fernandof! The current generation of Tasers all have cameras that are automatically activated when they are unholstered so each use is recorded. In addition, each discharge is accompanied by a spray a bazillion micro dots with a unique number on them so the immediate area is effectively contaminated with evidence of the Taser’s use.

I also reckon that personal cameras are a brilliant idea. They protect the police from malicious claims against them as well as citizens from over-zealous coppers. They’ve been used to great success in the US and are generally well received by the forces that have them.

justin heywood 2:09 pm 01 Oct 14

Who would be a copper? When it all hits the fan, we expect them to come and deal with it. Huge drunken brawlers, half mad ice-addicts, assorted crazies with unknown weapons hidden or at hand, etc etc.

We expect the cops to sort out these dangerous situations on our behalf. Yet some here, who are at no risk themselves, think that THEY should decide what tools they need to do it.

Give them what they need. If they abuse the power, deal with it then.

fernandof 1:52 pm 01 Oct 14

I think tasers are a good non-lethal option when used correctly, i.e., when there really are no better alternatives.

The issue I have with tasers is that too often it can lead to abuse as it is so easy to use, typically leaves no/little marks, and there’s a general consensus that it’s not really a big deal. Officers do tend to use it as a default option for pretty much any excuse. Not so much here (and @ScienceRules, it gives me great relief knowing our own officers aren’t infected in that stupid school of thought), but definitely around the world, particularly the US.

You know what works really well in ensuring police doesn’t abuse force (and I’m not suggesting they are)? Personal cameras. I think I’d be generally OK distributing tasers, as long as it’s accompanied with very strict usage regulation and enforcement of that regulation by means of personal cameras to police officers.

Antagonist 12:24 pm 01 Oct 14

ABC are reporting that SA Police are now allowed to use tasers against unarmed people. Not something I would like to see here.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-10-01/sa-police-allowed-to-carry-tasers/5781668

ScienceRules 11:20 am 01 Oct 14

neanderthalsis said :

My position though, is akin to those who want the firearms taken from police. The use of lethal force is really unnecessary in this town. There are other ways of subduing people if need be.

There have been cases in other jurisdictions where multiple uses of tasers and CS spray has failed to subdue a violent individual and lethal force has been employed. There is, of course, always the option of taking a non-lethal disabling shot to subdue an individual.

I do support all coppers having a variety of means to do their jobs effectively, if this means all officers having tasers, glocks and pick handles; then so be it.

No, “taking a non-lethal disabling shot…” is never an option. Not here or anywhere else in the country either. Police have use of force guidelines that provide for an escalation of force as the situation demands it. Tasers are one step along that continum, usually just before firearms.

I’ve worked with ACT Police as an Ambo for years and have found them extremely reluctant to use ANY kind of force and rarely do so. You are correct though that police need a variety of gear to do their job effectively and having lethal as well as less lethal options just goes with the work I’m afraid.

neanderthalsis 10:16 am 01 Oct 14

My position though, is akin to those who want the firearms taken from police. The use of lethal force is really unnecessary in this town. There are other ways of subduing people if need be.

There have been cases in other jurisdictions where multiple uses of tasers and CS spray has failed to subdue a violent individual and lethal force has been employed. There is, of course, always the option of taking a non-lethal disabling shot to subdue an individual.

I do support all coppers having a variety of means to do their jobs effectively, if this means all officers having tasers, glocks and pick handles; then so be it.

Antagonist 10:15 am 01 Oct 14

No thanks. I have seen what the police do to dogs with OC spray. Don’t give them tasers as well.

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