Monday, October 08, 2007
Are Tasers safe?
"Don't tase me bro!"

After University of Florida student Andrew Meyer was subdued last month at a Senator John Kerry event, (Watch Video) CNN and other media outlets played the video over and over again. And we were all fascinated by CNN's own correspondent/anchor Rick Sanchez getting Tasered a few years back. (Watch Video) In a classic report, Sanchez stands ready in front of police officers, gets Tasered, and his knees buckle. Just a few seconds later he continues with his report. For good or bad, I can't help but stare when someone gets Tasered. More importantly, I can't help but wonder how safe could a Taser be?

Law enforcement uses Tasers to immobilize people. Taser devices use compressed nitrogen to shoot two probes at a speed of over 160 feet per second at a range of 15 to 35 feet. An electrical signal sends a current through the probes rendering the immediate loss of a person's neuromuscular control for the duration of the impulse. "Typically a Taser can pack 50,000 volts, when it actually makes contact with a person 1,200 to 1,300 volts pulse through the body," says study author Dr. William Bozeman. A shock of just a half a second causes intense pain and muscle contractions. The manufacturer says that recovery is instantaneous, and long-lasting side effects are rare. This new study contends that most injuries are related to the fall to the ground, not the actual electrical current of the Taser itself.

A new study out of Wake Forest University School of Medicine finds that Tasers are relatively safe. Tactical physicians (doctors who work with SWAT teams) looked at 1,000 cases of law enforcement use of Tasers in six locations around the country. They found that 99.7 percent of the cases had mild injuries, such as scrapes or bruises, or no injuries at all. In the study, only three people suffered severe enough injuries to be sent to the hospital. Of those, two had injuries from falling immediately after being Tasered. The third person was admitted to the hospital two days after being Tasered, but researchers says it is unclear whether the hospitalization had anything to do with being Tasered. It's important to note that the new study followed patients only if they had to be hospitalized or needed follow-up care from initial injuries. There was no long term follow-up with all of the patients. The study was funded by the National Institute of Justice, but researchers say that the study was independently designed and conducted.

Amnesty International points out more than 245 people in the United States have died, many from cardiac arrest after being shocked with Tasers. Amnesty and other groups call for more investigation into how dangerous these devices may be. The Wake Forest researchers acknowledge that there have been roughly 270 people who have died in police custody after being Tasered, but they say that there is no clear evidence that the deaths can be attributed to Tasering or other causes.

Do you think tasers are safe? Have you or anyone you know ever been Tasered?
TASER Saves Lives Everyday

That's what I believe
Chris:

What ever happened to freedom of speech especially at a John Kerry event?

Come on people, he is not the President of the US or anyone important. He is a "has been" for sure. It was a rally! People should be able to speak and get fired up in debate (not gun fire). Just a point of clarification.

I have never been Tasered and never expect too.
I'm not sure how important the safety of tasers is relative to other weapons used by police, when out courts refuse to hold police accountable when they injure or kill civilians without valid justification.
I believe it was wrong to taser the student at U of F, unless he was physically threatening or hurting John Kerry. It's not like he's the president! It was extremely wrong to take that kind of "action" against a student. Is this the kind of message that Kerry actually wants to send to voters? That we lose our right to freedom of speech? However, I do understand that we can only take free speech so far, but as long as that student was not hurting Kerry or pulling out a gun, I see NO reason to have Tasered him, whether or not it has long lasting effects.
All victims of the taser can not be assumed healthy. Pre-existing conditions can not be ignored when discussing safe use of tasers. Conditions such as heart rate altering medications and devices, a history of cardioversion, seizure disorders, and pregnancy (just to name a few) are not always obvious at a glance. The heart is a muscle, evidence of deaths will increase with continued use of tasers.
Let's be careful not to associate Kerry with the tasering. While it was his event, UF police are the ones who took all action. In fact, just before the student was tasered, Kerry said "I'll answer his question." That's what makes the situation absurd.

As for the health consequences of tasering, I can't think why there wouldn't be. Defibrillators use electricity to kick start a person's heart beat. How can a significant shock given by a taser not put some substantial strain on your heart? Cardiac problems seem like a very likely complication that tasers could be responsible for.
Everyone in this Taser Debate should contemplate these questions first:
1. Do you know the difference between voltage and amperage?
(That’s the key to how a Taser works)
2. Do you know the body operates two separate electrical systems?
(Which operate on separate frequencies, the other key to how a Taser works)
3. Are we more concerned with the Taser gun itself or how police use force in general? (and the Taser specifically)
4. And if we are more concerned with police action (i.e. when is it appropriate to use a Taser or any other form of control (voice, baton, dog, gun)),
we should shift the debate to when police should use what type of force?
5. Yes, I’ve been voluntarily Tased and breaking my toe hurt much worse
I don't honestly think the kid had to be tased. Regardless of whether MR. Kerry is The President, or not. He Is also not responsible for the tasering, he didn't order the police to do it.... (which some of you keep making the point "he aint the president" )Are tasers safe? Safer than two in your chest or one in your head (and I mean bullets) If you ATTACK or THREATEN anyone, be prepared to have your actions responded to with force.. and be thankful when the cop chooses his "Less than Lethal" weapon over his trusty Beretta, Glock, S&W, Etc.
The student at the Kerry rally was resisting, and therefore merited Taser deployment to motivate compliance. I have volunteered for a Taser exposure, and will do so again this week. It takes the fight right out of you. I believe it's the absolute best less-lethal force option out there. To those who wish to speculate in regards to the Taser's effect on the heart, I recommend that you research the power output of the X26 TASER (normally used by LE agencies), and then formulate your opinions based on those results. FortressEnterprise.com
yes my son was taser and died they police used the taser gun on him until it died, also they beat while he was cuffed and on his stomach. so taser do kill or can cause medical problems ,such as heart,broken bones and more.why do you think that police officers who got taser at training and got hurt are filing charges.they suffered some severe injuries.so tasers are dangerous.
I think the real issue is what happens when a single taser "blast" doesn't seem to do the job. In the news recently there seems to be many stories of people being repeatedly tasered by police, often when they are already in handcuffs or on the ground. This is completely unacceptible. Yes, in general it is good that the police have a non-lethal weapon to use, but how about using words. Cops need to defuse situations, not rely on weaponry as a substitute for common sense.
And of course studies once reflected that smoking is healthy!

Sure, for many people tasering may not be harmful but what about those who all died after the event?

Maybe other physical variables combined with tasering can be deadly?

Hence, a limited study will not be effective to any extent; still, tasering is better then shooting someone; What is necessary is the appropriate force for the appropriate action - tasering should physically hitting or beating up a criminal who does not comply ~only used when appropriate, not as a tool to simply 'calm' someone down.
In addition, we have to think about the police abusing the taser. Look a the woman who was tasered nearly, what, 10 times? And a woman no less! I definitaly don't believe these are safe.
OKC had a woman who died following a tasing incident in which she was tased repeatedly by more than one officer, while she was on the ground and in handcuffs. I especially question the use of multiple tasers on one individual. I also wonder if certain areas of the body should be avoided. She was tased repeatedly in the neck area. She should have never died while in custody of the police. The video was released to the media and it was horrible.

OKC, OK
I think that if someone is going to resist arrest, he needs to prepare himself for the consequences. That was the whole issue of the situation. You just do what a police officer says and don't ask questions. You can defend yourself later. He had no right to disobey authority, whether they were wrong or not.
ok the whole point is he wasn't obeying the police. no matter what the situation is, whether you are wrong or right, you do whatever the police tell you to and argue later. He was resisting arrest and he knew the consequences. He didn't calm down when they told him to and he received a warning. Therefore, I think they should have tasered him to let other people know that respecting and obeying authority, especially a police who is just trying to protect other people, is completely necessary.
My nephew died after being tased and beaten and pepper sprayed by police. The coroner said that the taser could not be ruled out as a contributing factor to his death. I dont know if the electrical voltage is enough to actually kill a person, but I do know from researching articles on the subject, that metabolic changes take place in a person that will cause them to die. So I do believe that the taser is directly responsible for deaths. I would welcome studies that would address the action that tasers have on muscles and how that leads to acidosis and death. The nurses at the hospital said it looked like my nephew had been to a taser party. We all know that carrying any weapon requires the carrier to be of sound and stable mentality. He was tased multiple times by multiple tasers. He was not threatening anyone, he wasnt compliant enough. But after being pepper sprayed 3 times how compliant could you be when you are on fire and cant breath?
It's amazing how many people overlook the fact than in most police forces, most police officers who are trained to carry and deploy (use) a tazer HAVE been tazered themselves.

I have been tazered several times voluntarily, and have had no side effects besides a few grazes when I fell and wasn't caught in time by my colleagues.

I wouldn't have allowed myself to be hit if I hadn't known tazers to be safe. They are certainly safer than being shot, and (I would say) safer than being hit over the head by a baton.

Now, people (including Amnesty) say using a tazer on people who aren't violent is excessive force and causes injury and death. I disagree. In fact, long term it is the complete oppositte: A tazer allows a minimal number of officers to respond to an incident and remove the risk in a minimal period of time.

It's not uncommon for someone who is showing even slight resistance to require four or five officers to hold them down and handcuff them. That number of officers usually means two or three squad cars (2 per car)

If a tazer means that only 2 officers can be deployed to an incident, and they can clear that incident in ten minutes, then the other 4 officers can be sent to other incidents instead of backing up the original 2. 4 officers on the streets means more crimes can be prevented, and in the long term, less people get injured because of shorter response times.

Additionally, why should I - as a police officer - have to stand there and be punched, kicked, spat on and injured while trying to detain someone just to prevent an UNLIKELY injury to the person who I am trying to arrest?

When it all comes down to it, if the person being tazered had simply complied with the LAWFUL directions given by the Police, then they wouldn't have had the tazer used against them in the first place. Instead of complaining about excessive use of force every time police are forced to use their equipment, perhaps Amnesty and these other groups should look at why these people had the tazer / CS spray / baton / firearms used on them in the first place.

Why are THEIR human rights (having committed crimes - often violent) seemingly held in greater regard than those of the innocent public and police they are threatening?
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