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by Peter Moskos

October 2, 2009

Tasers Get Support

PERF says Tasers increase officer safety.

Of note:
Not all of the people who have died after being subjected to a CED activation were chemically dependent or had heart disease or mental illness; “some were normal healthy adults.”

25 comments:

Anonymous said...

I agree with Timoney's words of caution, and with the need for fairly strict criterion for deployment of tasers.

I know, for a fact, that tasers can resolve situations that would have called for firearms several years ago (ie. a suicidal person mutilating themselves with a knife, if an officer can get close enough). However, departments need to prohibit there officers from deploying tasers as punishment (usually, for running or passive resistance). I believe there is way too much of that going on, and it is not helping the reputation of law enforcement, especially in black communities.

Dave H.- IL

PCM said...

Tasers as punishment? That is very very wrong.

Anonymous said...

Once again, the key is articulation. An officer should never articulate that the taser is used as punishment for running.

Rather, it should be articulated as "force reasonably necessary to effect the arrest" and/or "used as an alternative to baton and pain complianace hold."

When taser use is articulated in this manner it is not a punishment at all, and that takes care of the problem.

Anonymous said...

"Once again, the key is articulation"

Another defense of testilying from anonymous. Beautiful! Better re-read your code of ethics, anonymous.

Dave H.- IL

Anonymous said...

It is not lying. If the policeman makes his own mind believe that he is tasering to apprehend and not to punish, then he IS tasering to apprehend and not to punish. If the policeman feels suspicious in his mind, then he has reasonable suspicion. These things are not lying. It is merely a matter of disciplining one's mind to think the appropriate thoughts and believe the appropriate beliefs. This is part of the reason that combat veterans make such great policemen. They get that kind of mental discipline in the service. This is also part of the reason why civilians can never truly understand police work (although ride alongs help).

Anonymous said...

Ok, I missed the fact that anonymous was a troll. My bad. You don't believe in anything, you just like to push buttons. Please get a life, anonymous. Don't you have a job or something. Oh, nevermind...

Dave H.- IL

PCM said...

Dave, honestly, I don't think anonymous is a troll. I think he's a police man being honest. A bit fucked up. But honest.

Anonymous said...

Here is a good article supporting the tasering of non-compliant students in school:

http://www.syracuse.com/news/index.ssf/2009/10/syracuse_schools_arent_the_onl.html

To summarize the main points:

1. It is good to have the police use tasers in schools because in some situations where the LEO opts for his taser he might have used a baton or gun instead.

and

2. If superindents don't want tasers in school, then they can simply opt for no police at all. It isn't up to educators to dictate to police what weapons they can't have!

Anonymous said...

Interesting tasering (out window of moving patrol vehicle):

http://www.wkrg.com/florida/article/man-killed-by-pensacola-police-car/408973/Oct-03-2009_11-02-pm/

I think the tasering would have been in policy here. Best wished to the officer involved. Investigations can be a nightmare when there is this kind of media coverage.

PCM said...

Why is it better to taser a person than strike him with a baton? I don't understand that.

And tasering somebody on a bicycle should be considered lethal force.

"Investigations can be a nightmare when there is this kind of media coverage"--yeah, the kind where the media and family and coworkers wonder how a "suspicious person" ends up dead and under a police car instead of applauding police for tasering a man on bicycle guilty of "felony running."

Anonymous said...

I am not sure what is up with the tone quotes around felony running -- it is a felony, and, more importantly, it is a felony that pretty much automatically puts everyone involved in fear of their safety and/or the safety of others. Look at it this way -- a perp who runs from a policeman is liable to stop at nothing, including deadly violence.

Here is the protocol:

- a policeman sees a suspect

- suspect starts running. at this point there is not necessarily a crime or risk to safety

- because wicked people flee-eth where none pursue, the policeman should respond by saying "stop, police"

- at this point, if the suspect takes one more step, he becomes a felon guilty of felony fleeing

- because the felony is fleeing law enforcement (as opposed to something non-violent like kiting checks), the LEO is entitled to use deadly force to stop the threat

That is why it is clear that the police officer was entitled to ue deadly force on the fleeing suspect on the bicycle, if that is really what happned. Besides, the story may look a little different after police have had the opportunity to investigate the eye witnesses who are talking to the media about this. Some of them may turn out to have credibility problems.

PCM said...

because the felony is fleeing law enforcement... the LEO is entitled to use deadly force to stop the threat.

Where do you police? That's the biggest crock of shit I've ever heard. And a dangerous crock of shit, too. Tennessee v. Garner (1985) explicitly says you may not use lethal force on a fleeing felon (except for cases in which lethal force would otherwise be allowed). And even police know this.

A perp who runs from a policeman is liable to stop at nothing, including deadly violence.

Another crock of shit. A suspect who runs from police is just as likely to be 14-year-old "runner" distracting police from the real criminal calmly walking off the street corner.

Illinois v. Wardlow (2000) does generally give police reasonable suspicion to stop (and in most real-world cases, frisk) a suspect who flees. But there's still no crime. Just suspicion.

Maybe it's different in other states, but where I policed, running from police is not a crime. And if "felony running" is all you get after you chase and guy, you're screwed. In Maryland, there is no crime of "felony running."

Though I suppose you might be able to charge somebody with failure to obey a lawful order after you tell them to stop (though I can't even find that gem in the city of state code right now). I'm not sure how this plays out on the street.

Anonymous said...

PCM:
"Dave, honestly, I don't think anonymous is a troll. I think he's a police man being honest. A bit fucked up. But honest"

Crap, the more I read, the more I think you are right, Peter.

THIS is what honest and ethical people like me are up against when we decide to look into a career in policing. I wish I didn't feel this way, but I'm afraid my worst enemies as a police officer may reside in the police station. Maybe not. I hope this guy is an extremist and not a "stand up guy" (he is probably a union official, though).

Oh well, you and the folks from LEAP give me hope that guys like anonymous may find themselves outnumbered one of these days. I take solace in that, and the good aspects of policing I see daily.

Anonymous said...

1. The take down of the bicyclist happened in Florida:

316.1935 Fleeing or attempting to elude a law enforcement officer;
aggravated fleeing or eluding. —

(1) It is unlawful for the operator of any vehicle, having knowledge that
he or she has been ordered to stop such vehicle by a duly authorized law
enforcement officer, willfully to refuse or fail to stop the vehicle in
compliance with such order or, having stopped in knowing compliance with
such order, willfully to flee in an attempt to elude the officer, and a
person who violates this subsection commits a felony of the third degree,
punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.

(2) Any person who willfully flees or attempts to elude a law enforcement
officer in an authorized law enforcement patrol vehicle, with agency
insignia and other jurisdictional markings prominently displayed on the
vehicle, with siren and lights activated commits a felony of the third
degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.

316.1935 Fleeing or attempting to elude a law enforcement officer; aggravated fleeing or eluding. —

(1) It is unlawful for the operator of any vehicle, having knowledge that he or she has been ordered to stop such vehicle by a duly authorized law enforcement officer, willfully to refuse or fail to stop the vehicle in compliance with such order or, having stopped in knowing compliance with such order, willfully to flee in an attempt to elude the officer, and a person who violates this subsection commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.

(2) Any person who willfully flees or attempts to elude a law enforcement officer in an authorized law enforcement patrol vehicle, with agency insignia and other jurisdictional markings prominently displayed on the vehicle, with siren and lights activated commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.


2. More importantly for LEOs outside of Florida, the famous Garner case should not be read to require that a quote-unquote felony have been committed as a Constitutionally proper predicate to use deadly force. Rather, the touchstone is substantial risk to the officer and/or others. If this risk is present, then deadly force is proper (and generally a good idea), whether there is a felony, a misdemeanor or even no crime at all. Now, it is slightly difficult to imagine a situation where there is no crime, BUT still a substantial risk, but it is possible. Imagine a certified insane person running around with a pipe bomb. Certainly we want LEOS to use deadly force before he gets into the bus. Another situation is where a person is fleeing from police. A person fleeing from police is likely to be getting a gun to shoot at the police. A person fleeing from police is likely to b running to a car in order to lead police on a high speed chase, with risk to everybody out or near the roads. Because of this substantial risk, deadly forc is always appropriate when a person is fleeing from police who have ordered him to stop. In most places, the failure to stop will be a felony, but even if it is not classified as a felony is som liberal jurisdictions, it is still the kind of threat that Garner permits and encourages the LEO to stop.

Remember: don't shoot to kill -- shoot to stop the threat.

Anonymous said...

"This is also part of the reason why civilians can never truly understand police work (although ride alongs help)."

You know, this is the type of attitude that makes me very suspicious of police officers. You chose to work for the government. Therefore, you earn your salary because of taxpayers, nothing else. Moreover, stop complaining when "civilians" criticize the police. "Civilians" pay your salary, give you all of those nice toys(including tasers)all through taxes. So, don't expect to work for the government and not be criticized. You too are a government bureaucrat and therefore quite open to criticism. Our system of governement was designed to distrust itself. This includes police officers and all others in government. It is the nature of the beast.
Secondly, what happened to the era of policing when the officer resolved situations with his verbal communication skills? I think you need to read "Homicide" to understand how these police solved problems. They didn't need tasers or stun guns or all of this other crap. They had the respect of those whom they SERVED, and they knew how to diffuse situations without a taser.

PCM said...

Anonymous (two posts above), you write too much and know too little to be a cop. I suspect you're a desperate police impersonator who is trying and failing to get hired as a police officer.

All that legal code is a waste of space. It's the same in every state. Yes, it's a crime not to stop your car when police pull you over. It probably doesn't even apply to a bicycle in a private parking lot.

Regardless, the rest of what you're writing is complete B.S. and I'm not going to waste my time going over it bit by bit. "A person fleeing from police is likely to be getting a gun to shoot at the police." You try that shit out out in court and you can and should be convicted of homicide. A person feeling from police is likely to be trying to flee from police.

Anonymous (one post above), very well said. I often find it funny how police constantly bitch about intrusive big government and lazy government workers and yet somehow manage to never look in the mirror.

I'll be the first to defend police officers. But police are not and should not be be above criticism.

Anonymous said...

Well, I don't always know what a court will do, but grand jurors are usually the ones who end up clearing an officer for shooting a fleeing suspect. Grand jurors tend to be good men who "get it." Just look at the Ronnie White case out of Md. Having a judicious prosecutor can also help.

We shall see how this Pensacola bicycle case goes. Ar you a betting man?

Anonymous said...

Peter,
Excellent refutations of anonymous' points. Also, excellent point about the tendency of police not to recognize that they too work for "gubmint."

I think this phenomenon is related to the conservative leanings of many in the field (though it may also be related to the fragmented nature of American government entities). Many American conservatives gripe all day about the Welfare State, and become wild-eyed radicals when a Progressive Democrat (particularly a black, Progressive Democrat) is elected. But they have no major concerns about the Warfare State or the Police State. In fact, they love these aspects of government, and go to extreme lengths to defend and expand executive authority (as we saw during the previous administration).

If you want to hear consistent arguments for limited government (no matter who the president is), you should consult libertarians, not conservatives. Conservatives will always support tradition over freedom, as their Tory ancestors did. I have read a lot of libertarian literature/blogs in the last few years, and it has made me a more intellectually honest liberal (not a libertarian though, in the American sense of the word).

Dave H.- IL

PCM said...

If I were a betting man, I'd assume the officers will be cleared of all criminal charges and receive a minor departmental rebuke for shooting from a moving vehicle.

Anonymous said...

Looks like the chief has decided not to throw the officer under the bus:

“There is not an exact prohibition from that [firing from a moving vehicle] in the policy,” said John Mathis, Pensacola PD Police Chief. “…It [police training] does not say that you will not fire from a moving vehicle.”

PCM said...

I predict there will be an exact prohibition in the very near future.

campbell said...

Anonymous (two posts above), you write too much and know too little to be a cop. I suspect you're a desperate police impersonator who is trying and failing to get hired as a police officer.

I was thinking the same thing.

In my jurisdiction fleeing in a vehicle is a felony, but on foot is a misdemeanor. Class B misdemeanor if you use our catch all city code for "Interference", or you can get them for Class A if you use the state code which is specifically for fleeing.

Anonymous said...

Under Florida law, 316.1935(1) says it is a third degree felony to stop a bicycle after being ordered to (whether or not the LEO is in his SUV), while 316.1935(2) says that it is a third degree felony to stop for a marked patrol vehicle with lights and siren regardless of whether the perp is in a car, on a bike or on foot.

It is okay if Pensacola makes a policy that it is okay to taser out of a moving car so long as they leave a loophole for officers concerned for their safety or the safety of others. Frankly, a policeman should not taser out of a moving car unless he can articulate that.

Anonymous said...

Correction:

--a third degree felony to FAIL TO stop--

Anonymous said...

Another correction:

--is NOT okay to taser--

sorry about that. still early here. haven't been to the gym yet.