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Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Holyoke (Massachusetts) Police Chief: No need to get Tasers

HOLYOKE - Equipping officers with Taser electric-shock guns is unnecessary because city police already are well-equipped and trained, Police Chief Anthony R. Scott said.

Also, said Scott, responding on Monday to a request from the City Council that he look into Tasers, such devices can be troublesome in terms of costly lawsuits filed against municipalities that use them.

"I am not ready to see an individual on the six o'clock news bouncing around on the ground like a basketball with 50,000 volts of electricity being pumped into their body," Scott said, in a memo to council President Joseph M. McGiverin.

Scott, who said he has more than 43 years in law enforcement, said police have sufficient tools. Academy training includes "verbal judo," which consists of spoken persuasion to get a suspect to comply, and physical compliance techniques, he said.

Officers also have department-issued .45-caliber semi-automatic pistols, pepper spray, collapsible nightsticks and non-lethal bean bag shotguns, Scott said.

The council on Aug. 4 approved an order filed by councilors James M. Leahy, Todd McGee and Donald R. Welch asking that Scott research the use of Tasers in other communities.

Leahy has two brothers who are police officers, Patrick T. Leahy here and Brian Leahy in Las Vegas. His goal with the Taser order was to increase safety as police make arrests by limiting gun fire and pepper spray, which can strike others in addition to the target, he said.

As for a next step in light of Scott's memo, Leahy said, "I'm not here to micromanage. I don't have a background in law enforcement. I do have a background in research. Whether he chooses to use it, that's up to him."

McGiverin, McGee and Welch, a Holyoke police officer, declined to comment because they had yet to read Scott's memo.

Tasers work by firing two fish hook-like barbs, attached to two wires, up to 21 feet away. The barbs stick into the person and deliver 50,000 volts of electric current in a 5-second interval that temporarily immobilizes a person.

The devices are made by Taser International Inc., of Scottsdale, Ariz.

Proponents say Tasers are a less dangerous way than a firearm or other weapon for police to control a suspect.

But the devices have their critics, including the United Nations' Committee Against Torture, which considers Tasers to be torture. Other critics include the American Civil Liberties Union and Amnesty International.

See also Memphis turns down tasers


Anonymous said...

It seems there are still some SANE law enforcement police officers and good to hear that the Holyoke police chief feels that his force is well trained and capable of handling situations without the use of the taser. Pity there are not more like them here in Canada. By the way...good job girl...70,000 visitors reading your blog...don't ever think for a moment that you are not making a difference...TNT, Exited Delirium and others are keeping this important information in the forefront...bless all of you.....

Janie said...

Of course, the article doesn't mention the death list compiled by the ACLU. Neither do they mention the taser deaths in Massachusetts. God forbid they mention THOSE facts.

Janie said...

Wow! I re-checked your death list -- no victims in Mass.? I thought there were some in all 50 states. Way to go, Mass.