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Friday, December 19, 2008

LETTER: Tasers are not safe

December 19, 2008
BY Linda Green, Columbia (Missouri)

Just as war is too important to leave up to generals, Taser use is too important to leave up to the police and to the for-profit Taser company, which has been running the show. In a community meeting, I heard the police officer, who is instructing local police in Taser use say, "Tasers are safe." In the face of the local serious injuries and the nearby death associated with police Taser use, I find that officer's statement chilling and grossly inaccurate.

Police Taser use is under scrutiny in communities all over the U.S., as we try to come to terms with a weapon that has not been sufficiently tested, and through experience, is proving much more dangerous than we originally thought. It is fine to look at police injuries before and after the introduction of Tasers, but we must not neglect the other side of the coin — injuries to the public by police use of Tasers.

It takes an informed and involved public and accurate and transparent information to preserve and run a democracy. Checks and balances are built into our governing system, and it is entirely appropriate that all these democratic principles apply to the public's desire to have the facts and input on police Taser use in our community. We have the right and even the obligation as citizens to question whatever governs us, including police Taser use, especially when drastic problems involving the public's rights are apparent. We must preserve our democratic citizens' rights to gain accurate and complete information, to require regulations sufficient to protect the public, as well as the police, and to insist that those regulations are followed.

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