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by Peter Moskos

October 25, 2009

Taser risks

According to one study, which claims to be the only somewhat large-scale study, the risk of serious injury from a Taser is 0.25% Now mind you the sample size (1,201) isn't that large so there were only three cases of serious injury which makes the 0.25% figure a bit dodgy. But still. Let's assume that is the case. That means one in every 400 people of Taser is seriously injured.

Is that an acceptable risk?

And of course the study only looks at the near term effects. There was an interesting comment to this post:
Several years ago, my department received Tasers. During the training, we were given the option of receiving a Taser blow to the chest, a drive stun to the back of the leg, or none at all. Within the months that followed the training, among those officers who opted for the prongs to the chest, two died of heart attacks. They were 35 and 38 years old. As many as ten (aged late 20's to late 30's) sought emergency treatment for chest pain and heart palpitations.
Remember, the real reason police department brass likes the Taser is that they're seen to lower expenses related to line-of-duty injuries (since the Taser is an alternative to going hands-on). If lawsuits start eating away at P.D. money, they'll drop them in a flash.


CPM said...

We have Taser's and like them. We've had good deployments when they have been used. Taser now has sent out a training bulletin telling officers not to deploy in the chest area. There is chance of hart problems!!! One trainer said Taser is covering there ass from law suites it we deploy at the chest after reading the training bulletin. (If anyone wants to see the training bulletin, I can e-mail it) My chief will tell you Taser is a pain in the ass to deal with when buying products and trying to get Taser's repaired. It's a good product but if it starts killing people, may we shoudld all send them back!!

CPM said...

With that said above, some people may be ready to die the day they are tased... We have a recreation path here in town. For a while someone was dieing once a year on it... Was the cause the path becaue they were exerting themselves??? Do we blam the path because they died. Another example is there H1N1 vaccine. They gave it out in the 1970s.... The health officals said some people will die after getting the vaccine. Meaning there will be someone who will have a heart attack cause it there time to have one. Some people did have heart attacks and died. They stopped giving the vaccine because they thought that is was caused. Just another perspective.

dave h. said...

"If lawsuits start eating away at P.D. money, they'll drop them in a flash."

Or if they're smart (C'mon, I'm giving management the benefit of th doubt), they will adopt more restrictive taser policies (which will move taser use up on the use of force continuum), and provide more training, with an emphasis on the medical implications of a taser jolt.

Tasers, like SWAT teams, are being over used, and in the process, the quality of policing is being degraded. Police agencies seem to be trying to justify the existence of both of these tools when they shouldn't have to .

PCM said...

Your optimism gives a lift to my day! I hope you're right. You probably are.