October 14, 2008
The Associated Press
ANTONIO — A new policy by Police Chief William McManus stops officers from using Tasers on anyone "known to be under the influence of drugs," limits the number of officers using the weapon against a person to one, and, increases the training time for officers to wield Tasers.
Effective immediately, McManus said officers are prohibited from using Tasers - weapons that deliver shocks of enough voltage to disrupt a person's neuromuscular system - if they have "firsthand knowledge" that someone is on drugs.
"You have to see them using (drugs)," said McManus in Tuesday's online edition of the San Antonio Express-News. The newspaper had published an investigation into how police have used the weapons since December 2006.
He said the new policy, issued Thursday in an internal bulletin, is in correlation to " excited delirium," a diagnosis described as an overdose of adrenaline to the heart and a possible cause of death among people who were shocked by Tasers.
"The research has connected excited delirium to deaths," McManus said, adding, "Excited delirium is a possibility when drugs are being used."
The policy does not limit the number of times an officer can shock someone, although it requires that police stop using the weapon when a person is in custody. The new policy requires officers who use Tasers to get 16 hours of training, doubling the requirement. The police chief is sending the 141 officers who already use the weapons back to the training academy for another eight hours of training.
An audit of the San Antonio Police Department released in July says the department should clarify its use of deadly and Taser force and should make its complaint process more accessible to citizens.
San Antonio city officials hired an outside firm to audit the department after several high-profile incidents in which officers were accused of committing crimes, on and off the job, and activists complained of excessive force and civil rights violations.
McManus, though he denied there were any widespread problems with the department, asked for an outside review, and the city hired Police Executive Research Forum, a think tank, to look over the department.
The audit resulted in 141 recommendations and was released weeks later than expected, but McManus said more than two-thirds were already planned for implementation. Seven, including one to list all complaints in officers' files, are being ignored.
WELCOME to TRUTH ... not TASERS
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
October 14, 2008