Use of force

Taken from ABC news online

Police Taser Children
MIAMI-November 14, 2004 — Miami-Dade police have acknowledged using a stun gun on a second youngster. It comes just weeks after an officer subdued a 55-pound first-grader with a 50,000-volt shock.

In the second instance, a 15-year-veteran officer used his Taser to immobilize a 12-year-old girl who was playing hooky from school.

Police Director Bobby Parker says he can’t defend the decision to shock the girl on November fifth. But Parker says the use of the Taser was justified in shocking a six-year-old boy October 20th because the boy was holding a piece of glass and threatening to hurt himself.

Parker says the department will review its policy on the use of the weapons.

(Copyright 2004 by the Associated Press. All rights reserved.) 

Quite a disturbing story (I purposely avoided the use of shocking). Maybe these officers lack proper training or guidelines on the proper use of force. However, I can not even begin to understand how any police officer could justify the use of taser on 12 year old unarmed girl nevermind a 6 year old boy. Something is wrong with the system.

27 thoughts on “Use of force

  1. The 12 year old girl definitely seems out of line, but the 6 year old? Maybe not so much. Without knowing more details it’s hard to make a judgment call, but if the kid was truly about to slice himself open then the taser wouldn’t necessarily be the worst way to deal with the situation.

    Or at least I could think of worse ways to deal with it. I’d rather my kid got tasered than shot…

  2. What’s going on in a 6-year-old boy’s life that he threatens to hurt himself with a piece of glass?

    No shit.  Hopefully the psychiatric counseling he receives will determine Barney the root of the problem Barney.

    As far as the 12 year old girl.  According to the police report, the officer was responding to a call that some children were drinking and smoking cigars by a neighborhood pool.  When the officer arrived, he told the 12 year old to get dress so she could be returned to school.  She returned and the officer noticed she was intoxicated and proceeded to escort her to the squad car where she tool off running.  The officer gave chase and fired his TaserTM when the child appeared to be running into vehicle traffic.

    In my mind’s eye I see the second use of the TaserTM more justified than the first.  I would imagine that a police officer with safety gear would be able to easily disarm a six-year old with a piece of glass.  If the second report is accurate, the use of the TaserTM may very well have saved the child’s life.

    Either 12-year old girls are getting really fast or Miami-Dade officers are exceptionally slow.  Glad to see both cases reviewed and maybe some additional training on dealing with minors will result.  In the meantime, I agree with Les’ comment that I’d rather have them shocked and alive than shot.

  3. You can get different cartridges – the longest has a range of 25 feet.  Two projectiles are fired by compressed nitrogen gas and connected by insulated wire to a circuit in the device that provides the zappage.

  4. LOL deadscot!  I assume that subtext is the equivalent of mumbling something under your breath real fast?

    That made me laugh out loud.  LOL

    By the way, what’s the tag for the subtext?

  5. Actually, the boy had already cut himself with the glass, he was threatening to cut himself further.  So the taser seemed like the best way to keep him from hurting himself.

    PS: Les we’re playing Horder chars on Garona server in WoW.

  6. In both cases the use of a Taser seemed appropriate. In the case of the little drunk girl especially. Not just for her either, but for her parents for allowing her to skip school, get drunk, and smoke when she’s twelve. I have an solution for these idiots too….hang them up by their wrists wet, naked in a meat locker and pay a bum to come in every thirty minutes and put several two inch long cuts on them while rubbing salt into the wounds with his dirty hands for a period of no less the 36 hours. As for the little boy and the use of Tasers in general on children. One, he needed it so he wouldn’t hurt himself further, two, I distinctly remember walking down the cereal isle at Wal-Mart and wanting to do the same thing to a couple of brats I saw tearing open cereal boxes and throwing a tantrum. wink

  7. I don’t know that it was appropriate in either case, only that it conceivable that you can justify it more or less successfully.

    Police officers have an obligation to prevent members of the public to come to harm, with the implied obligation to expose themselves to harm while performing that duty. However, it doesn’t say anywhere that they have to be stupid about it, either. Further, a police officer is supposed to possess a certain physical prowess, if for no other reason than to mitigate risks to their own person.

    In light of all of this, perhaps use of a tazer can be justified, perhaps not.

  8. It’s a good object lesson in “hearing the other side of the story,” though.  If we just hear that “a cop tasered a kid” it sounds brutal and completely unjustifiable.

    The Wisconsin hunter shootings are another good example.  Version one: “We asked him nicely and he opened fire.”  Version two: “They fired first.”  Goes a long way toward explaining why a single immigrant would open fire on several armed locals.  Now the only problem is figuring out who’s telling the truth.

    Oh, and DS – I loved the Barney reference also!  Never trusted that dinosaur.

  9. Well I think there are a few points to this story that make me think the police are glossing the issue. One, both uses of the taser on children were from the same department within weeks of each other, I don’t believe this to be coincidence. Two, taser are not 100% safe and not tested for use on children; How was the officer to know it couldn’t have done more harm then good? Three, the use of a taser warrants a prescibed use of force (much like the use of a firearm). Is it possible that the police may have solved these issues without the use of a taser? Maybe talk to the child with the glass, or just take the glass away from him (he is only 6). I realize that at best I can only get a small picture of the whole story but it seems there is trouble with society when either we are so ready to condone such use of force on children or that it is necessary to use such force on children.

  10. Ok, maybe it’s just me but I don’t see either of these events suggesting using a taser as being in any way an appropriate response.  A veteran police officer can’t subdue a 6 year old without using a taser?  Same with the 12 year old, the cop couldn’t catch an intoxicated 12 year old?  A few too many donuts?  If that were to happen here we’d be screaming blue bloody murder not suggesting it was a resonable response to the circumstances.

  11. Ok, maybe it’s just me but I don’t see either of these events suggesting using a taser as being in any way an appropriate response.  A veteran police officer can’t subdue a 6 year old without using a taser?  Same with the 12 year old, the cop couldn’t catch an intoxicated 12 year old?

    Given if the alternative were that the 12 year-old was about to run intoxicated into traffic to avoid the officer, I would say it’s justified.

    Imagine the response had the officer been chasing the girl and she ran into traffic and was killed by a motorist?  Then we would be bad-mouthing the police and have a dead girl to deal with.  This way we only get to second-guess the officers.

    Here’s a good write-up with the sequence of events in regard to the 6 year-old.  Miami Herald

    I’ve seen other sites relating this to the Marine shooting the wounded Iraqi and failing to see how liberals and moderates can justify this but not the Marine shooting.  Neo-cons have a strange thought process going on to make that leap.

    One, both uses of the taser on children were from the same department within weeks of each other, I don’t believe this to be coincidence.

    Possibly, my thought is that the two incidents taking place in such a short time-frame are driving force behind the public outcry.  Had the same events occurred within months of each other I wouldn’t expect the same indignation.

    Two, taser are not 100% safe and not tested for use on children; How was the officer to know it couldn’t have done more harm then good?

    No Tasers are not 100% safe but there have been field studies of the effects it has on children and pregnant women.  All results thus far have proven the device safe for all but the most intoxicated individuals or drug users.

    Three, the use of a taser warrants a prescibed use of force (much like the use of a firearm).

    A more appropriate analogy would be ‘much like the use of pepper spray or baton’.  Neither of the alternatives would have proved useful in these situations.

    Maybe we can get rid of the damned dinosaur for good now.

  12. Neither of those links worked for me Deadscot.

    Given if the alternative were that the 12 year-old was about to run intoxicated into traffic to avoid the officer, I would say it’s justified.

    Imagine the response had the officer been chasing the girl and she ran into traffic and was killed by a motorist?  Then we would be bad-mouthing the police and have a dead girl to deal with.  This way we only get to second-guess the officers.

    The only problem I have with this is, it could be the truth and the officer had no other choice or it could be the officer was frustrated and resorted to the use of force instead of chasing her. I was not there and I can not say.

    No Tasers are not 100% safe but there have been field studies of the effects it has on children and pregnant women.  All results thus far have proven the device safe for all but the most intoxicated individuals or drug users.

    Link did not work. If anyone knows of the policy of using a taser on children however I would like to read it.

    A more appropriate analogy would be ‘much like the use of pepper spray or baton’.  Neither of the alternatives would have proved useful in these situations.

    Both of which, I think, still warrant a prescibed use of force. The again, I am unfamiliar with state law and maybe officers can use them whenever they feel necessary.

  13. I managed to find the taser document. It is very interesting and as a technologist, I can really appreciate the use of technology in the police services field.

    The document is a pdf file and you can click on the link at this page
    http://www.opcc.bc.ca/Reports/Reports Home Page.htm

    The report suggest the use of a taser is an intermediate weapon and should only be considered for use in situations of active resistance (defensive resistance) or greater. As well the report states that there is no active testing of tasers on human subjects due to ethical limitation. With 1.12% of taser use resulting in medical complication and 0.09% resulting in death. There have been two known uses of a taser on a pregnant woman, with no medical complications but the report also concludes that taser effects on the fetus is unknown and there exists one incident of a miscariage where the ausal relationship is unknown (see page 37). The category for children in the 10 years and under, had 4 cases (0.06% of the total) and there is noting else in the report discussing the use of tasers on children.

    Other conclusions from the report suggest that the use of a taser can result in serious injury from secondary sources (such as a fall in situations where the individual is incapacitated). The report stated that in training two officers were seriously injured from falls caused by the taser, one was unconscious for a week and has been indefinately removed from active duty. Eight other officers were injured seriously enough that they were required to miss work.

    For the record I would like to state that I think the taser technology is a great idea. However I think its use requires proper training, documentation and guidlines for when to be used.

  14. Would you rather have the police officer use a firearm? In that situation, the subject is dead.

    The movement against Taser is motivated by other interests and has no base.

    It is funny how an officer stun-guns a kid, and everyone goes after Taser. Is this the case when an officer shoots someone with a regular gun? NO. Why not? Why do we go after the officer in that situation?

    Clearly a double standard.

  15. It is funny how an officer stun-guns a kid, and everyone goes after Taser. Is this the case when an officer shoots someone with a regular gun? NO. Why not? Why do we go after the officer in that situation?

    Yeah, funny.

    We go after the officer, if there is reasonable evidence tosuggest the inappropriate use of force. Police officers are given an extremely large amount of power and they are expected to use that power with responsibility.

    Anyway, read the rest of the responses. I Agreed that there was not enough information to warrant my original criticism, however I still believe the situation has some issues that should be looked into.

  16. I wonder if Goran works for the Taser company? wink

    Seriously, I’m not sure what Goran is protesting against. No one is suggesting that the folks who make the Tasers should be prosecuted or sued for their application by the police officers in these two cases. The debate has largely been over whether or not the police officers were justified in their use of said devices.

    Certainly use of a Taser is preferable to use of a handgun for obvious reasons, but that doesn’t eliminate some valid questions on just how safe Tasers really are or whether they should have been used in these situations. There is a perception that there is little risk in the use of Tasers which is not entirely true and as such it is a good idea not to encourage their indiscriminate application, but nobody here is suggesting that the folks who make the Tasers should be held liable for the actions of these officers.

  17. Pretty much. At least about 80% or more of the people who post on this site know how to use critical thought. Even some of the Right wing Bush loving individuals have suprised me by showing logical thought. Now if only we could somehow get everyone to read Chomsky, maybe we could win some support for the Left.

  18. Now if only we could somehow get everyone to read Chomsky, maybe we could win some support for the Left.

    TeRRoRan- some of us even support the Left without supporting Chomsky, or at least not his funny ideas about evolution…

  19. I would think there’d be quite a bit of support for the left on this site. grin

    Not quite what I meant. If over 50% of the votin population supports Bush, there is little change that can occur in current administration. Not that there will be any forseable change towards the Left in the next four years.

    TeRRoRan- some of us even support the Left without supporting Chomsky, or at least not his funny ideas about evolution…

    To be honest I have never read his discussion on evolution. I was just throwing out his name, because I believe his take on politics is probably the most truthful available. He cites excellent sources and brings to light the truthful stance of American policies.

    Then again I could be wrong.

  20. I was just throwing out his name, because I believe his take on politics is probably the most truthful available.

    From what I know of it, I’m sympathetic to Chomsky’s critique of American politics too.  He just has this strange notion about the human faculty of speech not having evolved by natural selection.  He is quite mysterious about what he thinks its origins are- biological, yes, but Darwinian, no.  Hmmm…

    This of course has no bearing (I don’t think it does) on his political views.

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