POSTED: 27 JULY 2008 - 7:30am HST

Kauai Taser Implementation

image above: University of Florida student Andrew Meyer was tasered for asking John Kerry a question.
See the YouTube
"Don't Taze be bro!" video here

by Jonathan Jay on 27 July 2008

The following is a letter submitted to the Chief of the Kauai Police Department:

Aloha Chief Darryl Perry,

Thank you for your continuing efforts to reform our Community Police Department.
I read recently in TGI:

"Perry answered Commission Chair Thomas Iannucci’s question about KPD’s progress in implementing the Tasers by saying that the department already had them “in house” and was “almost done” establishing a policy of procedure regarding their use.When pressed further by Iannucci to put a timetable on the Tasers’ implementation, Perry assured the commissioners that the new equipment would be in use by “the end of August at the latest.”
I am greatly concerned by this:
I am not aware of any public participation in the formulation of Taser policy and procedure by our Community Police Department. You have stated:

"We want to communicate with the community to make sure we are in synch with what they want."

Since you stated that in addition to "the tools you need to do the job" you also demand oversight and accountability, when are you planning to include the public in this process?
I am not aware of any recognition on the KPD's part that Taser's are in fact lethal devices - less lethal than firearms, but NOT non-lethal. In TGI you only speak about how safe they are. This suggests a less than accurate understanding of Taser lethality.

If KPD does ONLY an in-house formulation of Taser use policy under the dangerously false notion that these devices are NON-lethal, this policy will be a highly flawed policy. Recognition of the actual lethality of these devices will mandate modification of this policy.

If KPD drafts it's own in-house formulation of Taser policy without participatory involvement of the Community of Kaua`i, how can the KPD claim to be accountable to the community you are serving?

A Taser protocol sanctioning use of Tasers for situations involving "compliance of suspect" vs. "safety of the officer" seems to significantly lower the threshold of Taser use such that hundreds of civil rights problems (abuses and expensive lawsuits) have arisen.

"Compliance" related delivery of electro-shock sounds more like what I would expect in a "Police State" not "The Garden Island" Let's not bring that mainland/big-city attitude to Kaua`i.

I am all for officer safety. I am all for reduction in lethality. I am all for well equipted and highly trained officers acting professionally and courteously. I am all for full accountability of Community Police Departments to the Communities they are charged to protect and serve, and from what I have read, You are too. It is good we agree. Kauai deserves this.

Thank you for your service to our island.
May it continue with maximum Aloha.



POSTED: 26 JULY 2008 - 4:00pm HST

Chief Perry: Tasers in use next month

by Michael Levine on 26 July 2008 in The Garden Island News

Kaua‘i Police Department officers will likely begin carrying Tasers by the end of August, Chief Darryl Perry said at yesterday morning’s Police Commission meeting in the Historic County Building.

Perry answered Commission Chair Thomas Iannucci’s question about KPD’s progress in implementing the Tasers by saying that the department already had them “in house” and was “almost done” establishing a policy of procedure regarding their use.When pressed further by Iannucci to put a timetable on the Tasers’ implementation, Perry assured the commissioners that the new equipment would be in use by “the end of August at the latest.”

According to Perry, seven of 20 KPD Tasers are already out on patrol with specially certified and authorized instructing sergeants and officers, but none have been used in any police operation during the “month or so” they have been available.

The instructors will be training the remainder of the police force in the Tasers’ use over the coming weeks, after which Kaua‘i will become the last of the main Hawaiian islands to employ Tasers.

Perry said that the Tasers will serve mainly as a deterrent, noting that many criminal suspects will recognize the equipment and want to avoid their use.
The Tasers will oftentimes be used instead of police batons, fitting on the “continuum of force” somewhere between mace and firearms.

Perry said that Tasers are safer than batons.

An additional measure of security associated with their use is an automatic digital camera built into the Taser. When the weapon is turned on, the camera records audio and video, which Iannucci described as a “check valve” preventing unnecessary use.

Perry said that KPD’s newly-formed Internal Affairs unit would likely be handling the downloading of all video after incidents in which Tasers are deployed.
The KPD is also currently in the process of procuring 20 additional Tasers, Perry said.



POSTED: 26 JUNE 2008 - 4:00pm EST

Unjustified Taser use on helpless people

image above:High voltage danger sign

by Jonathan Turley on 1 July 2008 inb

;In Dayton, Ohio, citizens are upset over an incident where a blind woman, Denise Harris, 49, suffering from cancer was Tasered by police — apparently while she was on the floor. The police insist that they needed to Taser her “to control her hand movement.”Family and neighbors insist that they told police that she was sick and was afraid. The initial police statements indicate that she was hit with the Taser to facilitate cuffing — a very problematic rationale.

The police were reportedly trying to arrest Harris’ son on suspicion of robbery when things got ugly. In fairness, police often face hostile relatives in arrest situations, but it remains unclear why a Taser was needed to be used for cuffing a blind cancer-victim (who is also suffering from diabetes).

In another entry into the abuse of Tasers, this video shows police using a Taser to the neck of a pregnant mother after throwing her on her stomach to the ground. The woman clearly needed to be restrained, but it is hard to seriously suggest that a Taser was needed given her condition. Once again, this widely available technology is being used freely by officers as an alternative to physical restraining techniques. This officer was clearly capable to restraining this upset woman without the use of a Taser, but took the increasingly common approach of a Taser hit.

In yet another Taser abuse video, a Utah officer is shown telling a man to turn around and then Tasering him in the back after the driver refused to sign a ticket — while the man’s pregnant wife screams from inside the car.

The video shows Trooper John Gardner firing on Jared Massey during a traffic stop on on Sept. 14th.

The roughly 10-minute video shows Gardnerpulling Massey over for speeding. When Massey refuses to sign the ticket, Gardner gets upset when Massey refuses to sign the ticket while arguing its basis. Gardner tells him to turn around and fires into his back. Massey can be heard saying “I don’t know why you’re doing this,” and “read me my rights.” His screaming pregnant wife is ordered by Gardner back into the car and when another officer appears, Gardner says “he took a ride with the Taser.”

Recently uncovered video of a disabled British Columbia man being shocked with a Taser by a Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer has sparked controversy and once again brought the use of such weapons into the limelight.

John Dempsey suffers from a condition similar to Parkinson’s disease. However, two royal canadian mounted police officers in British Columbia still felt that he had to be Tasered — even though there is no evidence of resistance in this booking room scene.

The video was shot in 2004 but only released recently. Of course, they can be given credit for even preserving the video, as opposed to a recent story out of New Orleans.

The video shows Dempsey taken to a booking after he was arrested for objecting to the rough treatment given to a friend who was being arrested. He was already handcuffed when the police used the Taser.



POSTED: 26 JULY 2008 - 4:00pm HST

On Police Use Of Force

image above: Police sudue suspect wearing "Polygamy" tee-shirt

by Peter Moskos on 10 May 2008 in
I have three main problems with Tasers: 1) they’re used too readily, 2) the pain they cause isn’t geared toward the compliance I want, and 3) people die.
[...] If I followed departmental policy, I could have maced about 3 people a shift. Instead, I maced one person in 14 months. Mace has a natural check and balance: it goes everywhere. No officer quick with the mace will be popular in the department for long.

Physical force can often be done without too much pain. And the pain caused is directly proportional to your resistance. For instance, I need you to put your hands behind your back. I use force. Force isn't the same as pain. It might hurt if you fight it. But as soon as you stop resisting, any pain is over.

Officers use Tasers quicker than they otherwise would apply hands-on force. "Comply or I Taze you." You don't comply so I Taze. Clean and legal. But wrong because it's not necessary.

We're talking about pain compliance... hurting somebody. Tasers cause pain as punishment. That's not right. We shouldn’t pretend that causing pain is clean process. It never is.

Force is part of the police job. No suspect puts handcuffs on himself.

Without a Taser, I just say "Comply." You don't. So I keep talking to you, cajoling you, ordering you, threatening you. But the point is I'll work harder trying to convince you to comply if my only alternative is hands-on force. Officers *should* be reluctant to use force. You don't want to use physical force because there is some danger... and also you break a sweat--something you always want to avoid while wearing body armor. Departmental regulation be damned! It’s too easy to press a button.

When I do use hands-on force, at least my force is geared toward getting you to do what I want (like getting your arms behind your back so I can cuff you). With a Taser, it's just about disabling pain. That's torture. And consider this, it's not easy to follow instructions after being in the greatest pain of your life. So you get tazed again.

see also:
Island Breath: Dangers of Tasers 6/12/08
Island Breath: Police Militarization 5/7/08
Island Breath: KPD Overreact in Hanapepe 5/6/08
Island Breath: Protect and Serve - Not terrify! 4/5/08
Island Breath: Lingle Plan for Police State

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