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by Peter Moskos

November 15, 2007

Don't Taze me, bro!

I know my classes are topical, but I wish people didn’t have to die to make it so. Yesterday I class I talked a police-involved shooting in Brooklyn and the overuse of Tasers. Today a bunch of students sent me these links about a man’s death in Vancouver after being Tasered. Proving exactly what I said in class:

Since Tasers can kill people (though very very rarely), Tasers (and other less-lethal weaponry) should only be used in situations where you're willing to use lethal force (or where there's no clearly less lethal force practical).

The CNN report.

And one from Breitbart TV (Canadian).

This man should not have died. Nor should he have been Tasered. There were four cops. Why the hell can't they take the guy down with muscle? Is the Taser emasculating police officers? Tackle the S.O.B.! You know the guy isn't armed (it was a secure area of the airport).

Andrew Meyers shouldn’t have been Tasered either.

Also worrisome is that the Mounties lied and said the guy was fighting. That didn’t pan out when the video went public.

I don't like the idea of people, police included, being able to cause pain at the press of a button. It makes it too easy to torture. I’ve said it many times: policing is a hands-on job. If you need to hurt somebody, it is best to do it with hands (or stick). Hurting somebody with your hands is a natural check and balance to excessive force. Physical force takes effort, reminding you of the consequences. And being close to somebody means you might get hurt, which also is good to keep in mind. It’s just too easy to press a button.

I also don’t like that Taser is a private for-profit company. That’s not inherently a bad thing. But for makers of less-lethal munitions and prisons, it may be. They shouldn’t have P.R. and lobbyers. Or studies saying how great and safe their product is. At least for other forms of munitions, there’s healthy competition and generic products. It’s just a red flag. Plus, their slick website looks like something out of the movie Starship Troopers.

What does a Taser do? Here’s an amusing video of cops getting Tasered. Always good for a laugh.

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