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Thursday, October 20, 2005

Law Enforcement Forum Issues Taser Guidelines

From Findlaw.com: Houston (AP): "A national law enforcement organization recommended Wednesday that police use Taser stun guns only on people who actively resist officers and for only five seconds at a time.  The Police Executive Research Forum issued a total of 50 recommendations for proper use of the weapons, which deliver a 50,000-volt shock to immobilize people temporarily. [The recommendations were based on the consensus of a two-day conference held in Houston].

The recommendations suggest that only one officer use a Taser on a suspect at any one time and that only a five-second charge be used before police re-evaluate the situation.

The guidelines were issued amid criticism of police for using the stun guns too often, allegedly with deadly results. Amnesty International has compiled a list of more than 100 people the group says have died after being shocked in scuffles with lawmen...

'It has to be controlled, but to say there should be a moratorium on it, that would throw us back to the days of giving an officer a choice between a service baton and deadly force,' [Chuck Wexler, executive director of the forum] said. 'We need to have some middle ground.'

About 6,000 of the nation's 18,000 law enforcement agencies use Tasers, including the Houston Police Department.  Police Chief Harold Hurtt [of Houston's Police Department] said he first began equipping officers with Tasers while he was police chief in Phoenix, which saw an almost 50 percent decline in fatal police shootings between 2002 and 2003 after adopting the stuns guns." Story... [Mark Godsey]

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