Riverside County (California) sheriff rejects Taser criticism and declines to act on jury recommendations
September 22, 2010
By SARAH BURGE, The Press-Enterprise
Riverside County sheriff's officials, in their formal response to two grand jury reports from late June, have dismissed most of jurors' criticisms and declined to act on most of its recommendations.
The grand jury reports focused on the department's use of stun guns and its handling of harassment complaints by employees at the Lake Elsinore station.
Neither the grand jury reports, nor the Sheriff's Department responses delved into details about the incidents that prompted the grand jury investigations.
One report suggested that deputies might be overusing Tasers and recommended a review of training procedures and written policies to ensure the devices are used properly.
In one incident, a deputy shocked the same person eight times in less than a minute, the report said. A log showing the number, duration and time of day of the Taser shocks was attached to the grand jury report.
Undersheriff Colleen Walker said Tuesday that she did not know which Taser incident the report referred to. She said the department deploys Tasers about 11 times each month and that the grand jury report did not provide enough information to determine which incident the attached Taser deployment log was from.
"We don't know what they were looking at when they crafted their opinions," Walker said.
Sheriff's officials said in July that the Taser deployment records cited in the grand jury report do not give a complete picture of the incident, such as the effectiveness of the shocks and the level of resistance the deputy encountered.
Sheriff's officials said in their written response that they will not change department policy to restrict the number and duration of Taser shocks allowed.
Such a restriction would "result in an unacceptable compromise to public safety," sheriff's officials wrote. Deputies often become involved in violent, unpredictable confrontations and strict limits could prevent them from responding appropriately when there are extenuating circumstances, they wrote.
The response also said the department already conducts the kind of Taser training and detailed reviews of Taser incidents recommended by the grand jury.