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Michigan Bill: Arming Security Police with Taser

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  • Michigan Bill: Arming Security Police with Taser

    LANSING -- A little-noticed bill that would let more people use Tasers and stun guns in Michigan is awaiting Gov. Jennifer Granholm's likely signature, though critics hope she wields her veto pen.

    The legislation approved by the state Senate 30-7 last week and passed unanimously by the House in September would exempt detention facilities and private security officers at some hospitals and malls from a ban against using stun guns. Police officers and others in law enforcement have been able to carry the weapons since 2002.

    Stun guns and Tasers -- a police favorite because they can be fired from a distance -- temporarily disable people with electric shocks and are billed as a safer way to subdue combative suspects. But some question Taser-related deaths and worry the technology is used too routinely, not as a last resort.

    "I'm not convinced they're so benign," says Sen. Liz Brater, an Ann Arbor Democrat who voted against the bill along with five other Democrats and a Republican. "They're being presented as if they're some kind of water pistol or something. That's not what they are."

    The bill's sponsor, Republican Rep. Rick Jones of Grand Ledge, responds that Tasers are a safer and better alternative to firing a gun. He says he could even support letting civilians carry Tasers if they have a concealed weapons permit.

    "There will always be critics of any device," says Jones, a former sheriff in Eaton County, west of Lansing.

    He argues that pepper spray, rubber bullets and other devices aren't perfect, either.

    "It is important to give both police officers and corrections officers all the possible non-lethal options," Jones says.

    Tasers fire barbs that can pierce the skin to deliver a 50,000-volt shock causing muscles to lock up.

    In a March report, human rights group Amnesty International said it had logged more than 150 deaths involving Tasers across the country in the previous five years.

    The rise in deaths, however, accompanied an increase in the number of law enforcement agencies using devices made by Taser International Inc. of Scottsdale, Ariz. About 1,000 of the nation's 18,000 police agencies used Tasers in 2001; 9,800 departments have them now.

    Amnesty International is urging police departments to suspend the use of Tasers pending more independent study.

    Dori Dinsmore, director of Amnesty's Midwest office, says her group isn't inherently against Tasers and supports the use of non-lethal weapons. But she worries about a lack of oversight when security officers are allowed to carry Tasers.

    "Police departments are accountable to their communities," Dinsmore says, adding that citizens can meet with police chiefs and press for investigations involving deadly uses of Tasers. "Who's going to hold the private firms or civilian officers accountable?"

    Taser chairman and co-founder Tom Smith says Tasers' benefits far outweigh their risks.

    They give private security officers in other states a non-lethal alternative in crowded settings like malls and emergency rooms, reduce injuries to police officers and suspects, and decrease worker compensation claims, according to Smith. He notes that 43 states impose no restrictions on Tasers and let civilians buy them.

    Smith says that of the 500,000 times Tasers have been used in demonstrations, training and in the field, they were deemed a contributing factor in 25 to 30 deaths. Many deaths involved a violent struggle with police in which the suspect was overweight, addicted to drugs, mentally ill or had a bad heart, Smith says.

    Opponents of the legislation insist Tasers can exacerbate preexisting health conditions and are fired too many times at unarmed men with deadly consequences.

    The bill says only those trained in the use, effects and risks of electro-muscular disruption devices could use them.

    "We're supportive of the bill because it includes safety precautions," says Granholm spokeswoman Liz Boyd.

    Stun guns and Tasers were mostly banned in Michigan until 2002, when lawmakers created an exception for police officers and security officers in prisons, courts and probation departments. A 2004 law lets county jail officers use Tasers, but the latest bill was introduced because officials felt city lockup centers were inadvertently overlooked.

    The measure also would let officers at nine licensed private security agencies use Tasers, though it's unclear whether they actually will.
    Amusingly enough, these are not actually security guards (The AP can't tell the difference between a police officer and a security person, and never has been able to...), but Act 330 Security Police Officers. As in state power to arrest, private, police. This bill would not affect private security in any way, other than those agencies authorized by statute to have Act 330 Police accounts.

    Anyway, I noticed on Yahoo Anwsers a closed question on "why do security guards get tasers?" 99% of the answers were insanely wrong, including "Security guards cannot carry weapons by law," and my favorite: "Security guards cannot carry guns, so they should carry tasers."

    This is the public, folks.
    Some Kind of Commando Leader

    "Every time I see another crazy Florida post, I'm glad I don't work there." ~ Minneapolis Security on Florida Security Law

  • #2
    I never was a fan of tasers. Even in the hands of police, over a hundred people are killed by them every year. It's abused way too often. We had at least 4 deaths from tasers used by police so far this year in WI.
    "People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf."

    ~~George Orwell.

    Comment


    • #3
      I agree that Taser's have not been studied enough. The problem arises when people are more apt to use them because they have them. Here in Arizona a Taser can be carried with a concealed permit just like any other weapon. We have also had deaths contributed to their use. ANY weapon should only be used as a last resort, not to simply change a situation to someone's favor. If a person is violent they should be subdued by proper means when possible. If that is not an option or the perp is strung out on something like pcp that releases more adrenalin than a weapon is called for as a last resort for health and safety issues.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Special Investigator
        I never was a fan of tasers. Even in the hands of police, over a hundred people are killed by them every year. It's abused way too often. We had at least 4 deaths from tasers used by police so far this year in WI.
        Pardon me, but there's an enormous problem in your use of the phrase "killed by them", which is quite a different thing from "died during an incident in which a Taser was used". The first thing we must do in thinking about any observed phenomena is to be sure we start with precise descriptions of those phenomena. The simple failure to do this - i.e., thinking of the horizon as a straight line - is the main reason that mankind believed for centuries that the earth is flat.

        Once we have accurate descriptions of the phenomena we're studying, we can begin to think about the possibility of cause-and-effect. From a list of possible hypotheses, we can use the process of logical inference to screen out those that are improbable. For instance, we would look at all similar incidents and ask whether the incidence of death in those involving Tasers is significantly different from those in which Tasers were not used.

        I think you'll find yourself looking at many incidents in which people died after physical struggles with the police and simply being subdued/handcuffed, when no Taser or other nonlethal weapon of any kind was used. Statistically, then, you must exclude the same percentage of "Taser" incidents as being either inconclusive or insignificant because the same number of people, statistically, would have died no matter what method was used.

        Then, you also have to exclude incidents in which the perp was NOT unarmed and the situation was such that the officer would have been obliged to shoot him if the Taser had not been available. Just lose those cases altogether, because this guy probably dies either way.

        Now, once you've screened out the "noise" in the numbers that anti-Taser folks like to spout, you find yourself looking at some very different numbers.

        ...and you're not done yet, either. You haven't even begun to look at differences in the outcomes in terms of OFFICER safety between non-Taser and Taser incidents and I'll leave it to you to guess what happens when you add that cycle to the cost-benefit analysis. Safety of perps is hardly the only issue in question when it comes to deciding to deploy Tasers. We also deploy them as an element of added officer safety.

        Do a thorough analysis, instead of a superficial one. You'll figure out why, despite the yammering, police departments and other agencies continue to deploy Tasers despite being fully aware of this history of so-called "Taser deaths".

        The fact is, it doesn't matter if you simply trip someone - he might hit his head on the concrete. There's always some risk involved when we must use force. The question is...what kind of force and what level of risk. I haven't seen anything to indicate to me that it shouldn't be a Taser over many other options, and in fact I'd far prefer that my officers use the Taser instead of a baton. The Taser gets the job done with the least trauma to everyone concerned, and in my view it is very, very safe relative to other options that function at a similar level in the force continuum.
        Last edited by SecTrainer; 12-21-2006, 05:05 PM.
        "Every betrayal begins with trust." - Brian Jacques

        "I can't predict the future, but I know that it'll be very weird." - Anonymous

        "There is nothing new under the sun." - Ecclesiastes 1:9

        "History, with all its volumes vast, hath but one page." - Lord Byron

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by SecTrainer
          Pardon me, but there's an enormous problem in your use of the phrase "killed by them", which is quite a different thing from "died during an incident in which a Taser was used".
          Whats not to understand? He was killed by the officer who tasered him...period. The police very often abuse tasers, plain and simple. The 4 people "killed" in WI, or who died as a result of being 'zapped' by tasers, were all healthy individuals. When the individual officer operating the taser keeps zapping someone over and over.....

          The last non-violent, unarmed guy who died as a result from being tasered by police here offered no resistance, nor was he a physical threat to the officer. He just did not comply with the officers demand to lay on the ground.

          Bottom line....tasers can be a usefull tool but too often it is abused by those using it. In Wisconsin, it is concidered a "torture device". Private security is not allowed to use tasers, only the police.
          "People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf."

          ~~George Orwell.

          Comment


          • #6
            TASER International and the police agencies disagree with this statement. No lawsuit has successfully been won by a party against Taser. No medical examiner has stated "a taser was the primary cause of death," always "excited delerium."

            As far as Tasers and security... No citizen may posesss an electric weapon, only agents of the government. It has been this way in Wisconsin since 1982. I do not believe that the modern taser was even addressed back then, only the touch and shock type, that basically made people go "OW!" and not render them unable to move.
            Some Kind of Commando Leader

            "Every time I see another crazy Florida post, I'm glad I don't work there." ~ Minneapolis Security on Florida Security Law

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Special Investigator
              Whats not to understand? He was killed by the officer who tasered him...period.
              I'm sorry, but you're making statements here about cause-and-effect that neither you nor others have proven. As a safety auditor, unless you'd care for me to post a lecture on the subject, you can take my word that there are well-developed, highly-disciplined, very formal protocols for performing what is called "root cause analysis" to examine the reason that some adverse event occurred. When performed properly, root cause analysis very often yields unexpected results that prove to be contrary to "the way things appeared to be" from a cursory examination of the "facts".

              Absent such formal analysis that conclusively demonstrates causal factors and contributing conditions, any statements on the subject of cause-and-effect are nothing more than rank speculation, which are fine for the media, who report "non-truths" all the time, but not on a peer-reviewed professional forum, assuming we don't want it to become a source of misinformation for others.

              Mr. Corbier mentions "excited delirium", or "in-custody death syndrome", which was not invented to explain away "Taser-related" deaths and existed before Tasers were invented. These quotes from the journal "Perspectives in Psychiatric Care", Jul/Aug 2003 discuss the syndrome:

              "The "in-custody" death syndrome was first used to describe unexplained deaths when there was no apparent cause other than a police arrest. Research revealed that these individuals exhibited a form of behavioral disturbance that went beyond the distressed state that police normally face (Connor, 2003). The features of this extreme state, referred to as "excited delirium," include agitation, excitability, paranoia, aggression, great strength, and numbness to pain. When confronted or frightened, these delirious individuals can become oppositional, defiant, angry, paranoid, and aggressive."

              After noting that the diagnosis is controversial among medical professionals (for instance, it is not recognized by the AMA, but is recognized by the National Association of Medical Examiners), the article goes on to note that there has been research on the subject that does point to a biological basis for it: "Researchers believe there is a genetic fault that impairs the brain's ability to increase the number of drug receptors in the brain, which helps pump dopamine and other excess hormones out of the brain."

              As I said, this is an enormously complex subject and should be treated as such - meaning that we come to our conclusions cautiously and carefully, and certainly not on the basis of media accounts or any other second-hand source other than proper root-cause analysis. Contrary to what someone else here has said, Tasers have been studied extensively, including a number of root-cause studies, and when used properly their overall safety is far, far better documented than any so-called "Taser deaths" have been.
              Last edited by SecTrainer; 12-21-2006, 11:25 PM.
              "Every betrayal begins with trust." - Brian Jacques

              "I can't predict the future, but I know that it'll be very weird." - Anonymous

              "There is nothing new under the sun." - Ecclesiastes 1:9

              "History, with all its volumes vast, hath but one page." - Lord Byron

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Special Investigator
                I never was a fan of tasers. Even in the hands of police, over a hundred people are killed by them every year. It's abused way too often. We had at least 4 deaths from tasers used by police so far this year in WI.
                Over a hundred people are killed by Tasers every year? Really? Would you care to back that statement up with some sources? You're blatantly making these statements up and repeating the same arguments that were made against O.C. spray 15 years ago.

                Even Amnesty International can only compile a list of 150 deaths involving Tasers in 5 years of use. As SecTrainer has already pointed out, Tasers being "involved" in the deaths does not equal "being the cause of."

                When a high, overweight crack addict runs a mile, fights, and is tackled by five cops and then Tased, it should come as no surprise that the suspect could end up dying--your body just isn't meant to withstand all those factors rolled into one moment. Does that make the Taser a deadly weapon? Hardly.

                Do some more research.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Rooney
                  I agree that Taser's have not been studied enough.
                  Sorry - not true. See my post above, last paragraph. Tasers have been studied very extensively.

                  I might add that root-cause analysis, mentioned above, is very interesting and applies to every human endeavor in which adverse events can occur. I was first introduced to it as a safety auditor in the field of healthcare, where, like our domain, professionals are using powerful tools that can be and have been improperly implicated as "the cause" for harm done while treating a patient when, in fact, the drug or the device was not the cause at all. This, as well as similar situations in a number of other high-criticality fields, has all contributed to the development of the science of root cause analysis, which is now the main accepted procedure among safety professionals for proving why something happened.
                  Last edited by SecTrainer; 12-21-2006, 11:24 PM.
                  "Every betrayal begins with trust." - Brian Jacques

                  "I can't predict the future, but I know that it'll be very weird." - Anonymous

                  "There is nothing new under the sun." - Ecclesiastes 1:9

                  "History, with all its volumes vast, hath but one page." - Lord Byron

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I could get sprayed with OC and go into respiratory shock and die... I wouldn't necessarily say that it makes it a deadly weapon.
                    "Alright guys listen up, ya'll have probably heard this before, Jackson vs. Securiplex corporation; I am a private security officer, I have no State or governmental authority. I stand as an ordinary citizen. I have no right to; detain, interrogate or otherwise interfere with your personal property-... basically all that means is I'm a cop."-Officer Ernie
                    "The Curve" 1998

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by BHR Lawson
                      I could get sprayed with OC and go into respiratory shock and die... I wouldn't necessarily say that it makes it a deadly weapon.
                      Amnesty International called for a moritorium (and still does) on OC, as well.
                      Some Kind of Commando Leader

                      "Every time I see another crazy Florida post, I'm glad I don't work there." ~ Minneapolis Security on Florida Security Law

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        That's beside the point. What I am saying is stuff can kill. I guess they should go ahead and try to stop people from eating, we should all be fed through IVs so we dont choke.
                        "Alright guys listen up, ya'll have probably heard this before, Jackson vs. Securiplex corporation; I am a private security officer, I have no State or governmental authority. I stand as an ordinary citizen. I have no right to; detain, interrogate or otherwise interfere with your personal property-... basically all that means is I'm a cop."-Officer Ernie
                        "The Curve" 1998

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          SI,
                          ..where are you actually getting these stats?? Sorry, but I dont think you really know alot about what your speaking about and probably have even less real street time.
                          1st off, in most states, LEO's are required to take the "hit" in order to be certified for carry, meaning they know full well, the effects of a taser hit, just so that they cannot be accused later, in court, of not knowing what a hit feels like & therfore could know the pain involved. I dont think Taser International requires it, but most POST do, just like OC. In some areas I've worked as a LEO, only supervisors or Sgts were issued them, but that is changing as of late and as more dept come on board, but if your carrying one on duty, you've been certified to dept, state or to whatever governing standard is in place, no exceptions.
                          Secondly, mis-use of an officers assigned duty taser unit, can be easily tracked as any officer who carries one, will tell you, the tools have a deployment memory, which can be downloaded to show all deployment activity, such as # of cycles, duration of those cycles, etc. New ones have a deployment camera, which actually takes a digital photo, each time the tool is deployed. In cases I've seen, this info is used to demonstrate proper officer conduct and is automatically done as part of the IR / UOFR.
                          Finally, people have died in, or as part of, an arrest from just about every tool a LEO carries, including vehicle collisions, postitional asphixia after being OC'd, a mis-intended blow from a baton in a close in struggle..etc.
                          Tasers as a general rule, stop the fight or the less then cooperative action with no injury to officers, innocent persons and no permanent injury to the arrested party. Job #1, is everyone goes home in 99.9% of the cases, without the taser, officer conduct is limited to fewer options & at greater risk. When a taser cycles off, the pain is over, as are the direct effects to the body's systems, you remember the pain, the muscle lock up, etc, but the direct effects are over, muscle pain following the hit, is normally from lock up & strain and not the actual taser itself. The barbs are small and can leave small punctures,and I've seen small burns from prob contact, but niether of these is permanent or life threatening. I've seen it, in real time, go both ways however, some guys will pop right back up for more, but in the end, repeated cycles and even multiple deployments from more then 1 officer will almost always work and are sometimes nessicary...maybe repeated cycles might constitute "abuse" to you, but then again, when you are really on the other end of a 6.6 , 275lb ex-con, wearing a 1/4 inch thick leather jacket who refuses to go down easy and would rather push your head thru the sidewalk then go back to the inside, my guess is, your be more then willing to cycle out your taser before getting close enough to have your face smashed in...if he dies due to other factors or medical conditions, unknown to you, because of His struggle & attempted injury to you, your partner or others your duty is to protect,all during His unlawfull activity..should we really feel sorry for him or her..??
                          In my federal academy, we were taught the subject chooses the tool of your use based on his actions, not the officer..most certainly, the subject chooses his path of cooperation or lack of and at my last check, the taser is a tool of compliance.
                          Yoda
                          Sometimes there is "Justice", sometimes there is "Just Us"

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            [QUOTE=Special Investigator;21771]I never was a fan of tasers. Even in the hands of police, over a hundred people are killed by them every year.

                            Is that number a little high? Or is that a accurate total?
                            " We are determined that before the sun sets on this terrible struggle, our flag will be recognized throughout the world as a symbol of freedom on one hand and of overwhelming force on the other" - General George C. Marshall

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              People who knock Tasers usually do not know what they are talking about. Tasers SAVE lives, pure and simple. There have been countless situations where officers have successfully used Tasers to subdue someone that they would have had to have shot in the past.

                              The cause and effect that the folks at Amnesty International don't realize is that without Tasers and OC the options left are beating someone with a baton or flashlight or shooting them. These are people who have never been in a fight in their lives that think things like the restraint techniques they teach in hospitals will actually work one on one in the field.

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