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Sunday, October 23, 2011

Police Taser Abuse in New York State

     In October, the New York Civil Liberties Union released a report, based on 851 taser incidents from eight police departments in the state, called "Taking Tasers Seriously: The Need for Better Regulation of Stun Guns in New York." According to this report, 60 percent of taser incidents failed to meet departmental guidelines that limit the use of taser guns to situations where physical aggression is encountered. Moreover, 75 percent of taser use in the study didn't involve verbal warnings prior to the execution of this form of nonlethal police force.

     According to departmental regulations in all of the agencies studied, officers are not supposed to taser children and elderly people. Notwithstanding these guidelines, police, in an astounding 40 percent of cases, tasered these "at-risk" subjects. Even though the excessive shocking of a person can be fatal, one-third of these cases involved prolonged shocks. In 15 percent of these incidents, the police tasered subjects who were already restrained, including people in handcuffs.

     The authors of the taser report noted that officers with the New York City Police Department had complied with departmental policies and guidelines. However, other law enforcement agencies in the study had used tasers in an "inappropriate, irresponsible and downright deadly manner." (See: "Taser Madness," October 6, 2011) 

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