You may have arrived here via a direct link to a specific post. To see the most recent posts, click HERE.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

EDITORIAL: Shocking conclusions

June 11th 2008
New York Daily News - Editorial

The NYPD is considering arming officers with Tasers.

Here's an idea for anyone who jumps to the conclusion that it would be a good idea to arm 36,000 NYPD officers with Tasers: Volunteer to get jolted by the electrical zapper.

At least one American police department, Cincinnati's, that has adopted the weapons asks officers to feel what it's like to be incapacitated.

Which is a good thing because Cincy police are shocking roughly 500 annually. Imagine the response if the NYPD began electrically stunning folks in that number. And now imagine the reaction if the NYPD started Tasering people on a scale commensurate with the size of this city.

Based on the relative populations of Cincinnati and New York, the NYPD would electrify more than 12,000 people a year, more than than 30 a day, more than 230 a week.

So why is this even an issue?

Because the Rand Corp., hired by Commissioner Ray Kelly to study ways to reduce police shootings, called for a "pilot program" that armed cops in selected precincts with Tasers. The nuttiness of the recommendation epitomizes an otherworldly quality that pervades its entire report.

Kelly requested the study after the Sean Bell shooting. Buried in the verbiage are the facts that shootings by the NYPD have steadily declined and that the city's cops fire their weapons far less frequently than do their peers in other departments. In Washington, for example, cops shoot at almost four times the rate of the NYPD.

In other words, our cops are far from from trigger-happy. Bolstering that indisputable conclusion, Rand found a total of 25 incidents over several years in which cops might have been able to avoid firing weapons had they adopted different tactics.

Why, maybe those cops could have used Tasers!

Right, maybe they'd eliminate a handful of lawful gun discharges every year - while running the risk of Tasering thousands. Because that's what happens. Cops start using Tasers to subdue people whom they have traditionally take down by hand.

Consider Houston's experience. In 2007, the Houston Chronicle found that cops shot the same number of people after they were armed with Tasers and that, most often, they used the stun guns in traffic stops and other common circumstances.

That's not the way to go. Kelly was right in giving the weapons only to supervisors and testing whether they would be effective in, say, getting command of deranged individuals. To go further quickly would be shocking.

No comments: