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Thursday, May 08, 2008

Hey New Jersey: Blind faith in your leaders, or in anything, will get you killed

The pressure is on in New Jersey, one state in the US that does NOT allow police to use tasers. Good 'ole Tom Smith is right in there like a dirty shirt, telling folks that some people actually get PLEASURE out of being tasered. And note the spokesperson for the New Jersey Fraternal Order of Police, saying: "If there is a way that officers can perform their sworn duty WITHOUT EMPLOYING DEADLY FORCE, then we have a MORAL OBLIGATION to do so. Once again, the police attempt to mislead an unsuspecting public into believing that the taser will only be used as a "moral alternative" to deadly force. As we all know, that sales pitch is what got us into this mess in the first place. It's a very slippery slope that leads to "usage creep."

As New Jersey native Bruce Springsteen once said: “Blind faith in your leaders, or in anything, will get you killed.”

Training Key Issue in Using Tasers
May 8, 2008
By Tom Baldwin, Asbury Park Press (New Jersey)

TRENTON, NJ — A special state panel exploring the idea of allowing police to use less-than-lethal weaponry heard from the founder of the widely discussed Taser gun Wednesday, as well as a small-town mayor who had volunteered to be felled by the weapon.

The Attorney General's Committee on Less-Lethal Force, also watched real, police-action videos of mentally shaky people being "Tasered,' and of fighting-fit cops who volunteered to challenge the tool but were decidedly waylaid, if only for seconds.

But when the soft-spoken and genteel mayor of tiny Hope — one of New Jersey's picture-postcard hamlets — said he had been "Tased," in his words, many heads turned.

"It didn't hurt," said Mayor Timothy McDonough. "When I say "hurt,' I am thinking of hitting your thumb with a hammer. That hurts. This felt about like sticking your finger in a light socket." He agreed that such an action could be painful to some.

McDonough and Taser International Founder and Chief Executive Officer Tom Smith joined an array of others who largely trumpeted the praises of the tool that they said sends small projectiles onto a suspect's skin, scrambles the nervous system for about five seconds, then leaves one blinking but unharmed.

"The key issue is the training," said Richard Celeste, who has run the Somerset County Police Academy.

Toms River's Frank Rogers, a retired deputy superintendent of the New Jersey State Police, told the panel the weapon allows an officer to stay safely away from a suspect while still disabling the person without having to use a conventional gun.

"Does it hurt?" asked Middlesex County Prosecutor Bruce Kaplan.

"It's uncomfortable. It's like hitting your funny bone" many times over, said Taser's Smith.

"It may be a good tool, but there is a pain element," said Kaplan.

"We have had people describe it as pain. We've had people describe it as pleasure," said Smith. "You are very aware of what's happening to you."

"These non-lethal weapons will provide options," said Fanwood Mayor Colleen Mahr.

Mount Laurel's Steve Demofonte, speaking for the New Jersey Fraternal Order of Police, said, "If there is a way that officers can perform their sworn duty without employing deadly force, then we have a moral obligation to do so. ... Officers often require thousands of hours of counseling and support to overcome trauma."

One panel member, Robert Davison, executive director of the Mental Health Association of Essex County, said he worried police might rely on the Taser when time and talking might restore calm to a chaotic moment.

Dentist Maryam Seluki of Willingboro said she opposes such weaponry. "These have a great potential for being lethal and for being abused."

The panel is to write a report to Attorney General Anne Milgram. Its chairman, Roman Martyniuk, said there is no deadline for when the report is due.

Smith said so-called "conductive-energy devices" are used allowed in all other states, and some 12,750 out of some 18,000 U.S. police departments use some sort of stun-gun product, if not his brand, as do authorities in 45 nations, including Britain, France and Australia.

In reply to a question from Middlesex County's Kaplan, Smith said he had been Tasered several times.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I hope we can keep this barbaric weapon from coming to New Jersey. It would be a disaster for our state.