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Police in U.S. Will Soon Have Multi Shot Taser GunsPolitical Perspective by Tim King Salem-News.com
Taser International unveiled a new stun gun last week capable of shocking three people without a reload.
(SALEM, Ore.) - The Telegraph in Great Britain reports that a big change is coming in police Taser guns for the U.S. and the U.K.
As the controversy surrounding the use of these police weapons on people heats up, the company in Scottsdale, Arizona that manufactures the Taser has a new model out that will allow police to fire multiple barbed wires charged with electricity at one or more people, more like an automatic weapon. The new Taser gun will fire three times.
Police say the older Taser stun guns have to be reloaded after one shot, and that creates a problem for officers who miss their target, though they are used at very close range. The company stated that the new Taser can strike more than one person simultaneously.
It is the first time in six years that this Arizona company has released a new model. It was shown to hundreds of police and distributors at Taser's annual conference. It isn't available yet, and the company stated that they will announce the release date next month.
The multi shot Taser guns will sell for $1,799, which is $1,000 more than the current model, Taser spokesman Steve Tuttle told The Telegraph.
Salem-News.com has reported several times that Tasers are used under questionable circumstances on American citizens. So far this year, two minors have died after being shot with a police Taser. Records since June 2001 indicate that Tasers have been a factor in 351 deaths so far in the United States.
In spite of reports from human rights groups, the company that sells these to police, says Tasers do not cause heart attacks.
The Taser spokesman says the company has gone to court over 97 product liability suits, and won 96 of them. It is important to note however that it is very difficult to ever find a case where a police officer is adjudicated over killing a suspect in the line of duty.
Still, those numbers indicate how frequently Tasers are a factor in arrest-based deaths. YouTube is also loaded with footage of police seemingly torturing people with Tasers.
Here are some examples:
I am not citing or failing to recognize the long list of successful Taser deployments that take place in this nation, nor am I qualified to know what does or does not deem the practice "legal" under the different state and federal laws. To me, never having felt the working end of a Taser, it seems like a cruel device to use on people.
If it is a matter of life and death and a police officer can bring a suspect into compliance with a Taser, thus avoiding having to use a firearm, then it is obviously a helpful and useful tool.
To their credit, many police officers who use Tasers have been shot with the device in training. Having personally witnessed this training before, I can tell you that when the police use the Taser on one another, they do not shoot and hold the button down to provide the prolonged shocking that is seen on the YouTube videos.
Amnesty International reports that most people who have been killed by Tasers were not carrying weapons. That is a tragedy.
The obvious way for city, state and county governments to handle the Taser problems, is to regard them as the lethal device that they are. Each time an officer draws and uses the Taser, they should be temporarily relieved from duty with pay while an investigation takes place, just as if they had used their firearm.
The most important thing beyond that, is to have the cases be investigated by a citizen's review board. Those citizens need to be unbiased and not represent the law enforcement community.
If the Taser use was deemed justified, then the officer carries on and has no repercussions over the incident. If however, they use it unnecessarily, then they should be relieved of duty permanently.
There is no question that many officers and deputies exercise great caution when using Tasers, and no doubt that others are quicker, less cautious, and more eager to use them. The bad apples are in the limelight at this time and it seems an impossible course to reverse without strong political action.
I believe reporting on this subject strikes a nerve with police and I'm not surprised by that. In the end, they aren't the ones who need to worry about being shot with a Taser. In fact I was told recently by an officer I have known for several years, that most of the Salem Police officers are very distrusting of the media and are not inclined to want to work with us. I take that to be part of a growing trend and likely connected to our reports about Tasers.
If that is the end result of honest and sometimes critical reporting, then let it be. I think a lack of trust is a mutual feeling at times and it is unfortunate but true. I believe that most of the time things are good between law enforcement and media, and almost all of our stories involving police are what would be considered positive, as they are simply rewritten press releases.
As long as law enforcement finds it necessary to be controversial, we will be here to write about it, that is our role in this world. Tripling police Taser ability will bring about more problems, and when does it end? When it shoots six people at once? Maybe twelve? Law enforcement should put their taxpayer generated money back into community policing and public affairs.
I'm sure most people who have been shot with a Taser would agree with that.
Special thanks to: WORLD VIEW NEWS SERVICE for information in this article.
See this follow up report: Taser Use in the U.S. is a Serious Problem - Political Perspective by Tim King Salem-News.com
Tim King is a former U.S. Marine with twenty years of experience on the west coast as a television news producer, photojournalist, reporter and assignment editor. In addition to his role as a war correspondent, this Los Angeles native serves as Salem-News.com's Executive News Editor.
Tim spent the winter of 2006/07 covering the war in Afghanistan, and he was in Iraq over the summer of 2008, reporting from the war while embedded with both the U.S. Army and the Marines. Tim holds numerous awards for reporting, photography, writing and editing, including the Oregon AP Award for Spot News Photographer of the Year (2004), the first place Electronic Media Award in Spot News, Las Vegas, (1998), Oregon AP Cooperation Award (1991); and several other awards including the 2005 Red Cross Good Neighborhood Award for reporting. Serving the community in very real terms, Salem-News.com is the nation's only truly independent high traffic news Website, affiliated with Google News and several other major search engines and news aggregators.
You can send Tim an email at this address: firstname.lastname@example.org
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