The Taser has steadily been gaining
popularity among police departments.  
The Taser, a non-lethal weapon that
emits 50,000 volts of electricity with low
amperage, has proven to be quite
efficient in subduing combative suspects.  

The media frequently airs tapes of police
officers zapping people who appear to be
offering no resistance.  The part that
people have a hard time understanding is
the non-compliance issue.  When you
become a police officer, you'll learn that
many people fail to follow your verbal
directions.  I love the tape where the
officer orders a woman to exit her
vehicle.  Just by the comments from the
woman, it's obvious she has no intention
to follow the officer's orders even after
he warns her that he's going to zap her
with the Taser.  It should also be just as
obvious that if the officer had attempted
to physically remove her from the vehicle,
she would have resisted, and some level
of physical force would have been
required to control or subdue her.  
However, tasing a person for simple
non-compliance is never going to look
good; unless, that person is of such
size; stature, and demeanor which
indicates that a physical assault on you is

The thing that is so attractive about the
Taser is how clean the device does it's
job.  It incapacitates a person instantly
without inflicting bruises, contusions,
lacerations, or fractures -- the desired
results of police opponents and lawyers.  
Since the experience is so unpleasant,
it's value as a psychological deterrence
for continued resistance cannot be

But, as police are prone to do, they
frequently screw up a good thing.  When
it comes to the Taser, zapping small
children and the elderly doesn't sit well
with anyone.  As the piece above so
graphically demonstrates, there are times
when the use of the weapon is clearly
As far as deaths resulting from use of
the Taser, the debate continues to go
on.  It's not uncommon for violent
persons who are subdued by police to die
following an encounter with police where
the use of force is required.  These
deaths are usually the result of
preexisting physical conditions
exacerbated by the struggle or by
substance abuse which caused or
contributed to their violent behavior.  

You should view the use of the Taser
just as you would any other use of force
-- don't apply the force unless you
must.  It all comes down to your decision
to use force, because you're the one
who's going to have to justify the use of
that force.

As with any technology, the Taser
technology will be improved to a point
where it's size and availability for rapid
use will become even more convenient.  
The Taser, and similar technology, can
have a very beneficial effect for law
enforcement, as well as those subjected
to its force, as long as police officers
don't abuse this very promising
"You should view the use of the
Taser just as you would any other
use of force -- don't apply the force
unless you must." ~ Barry M. Baker
According to one report, the officer in
this story had 18 years on the job when
this incident occurred, so he's certainly
no rookie.  What did he do?  Well, he
shot 50,000 volts of electricity, from a
Taser gun, into an 18 year old drug
suspect for his [the suspect's] own
good.  You ask, "Where's the catch?  
That doesn't sound so bad."  Well, the
officer zapped this guy while he [the
suspect] was strapped to a hospital bed.  
Now, you think, "This guy must have
been a mental case who was tearing away
his restraints and about to place others
in danger."  Sorry, nothing that
dramatic.  The suspect refused to give
hospital staff a urine sample.  When he
wouldn't hold still for the insertion of a
catheter..."ouch!"..., the police officer
acted with
stunning results,  and the
suspect agreed to urinate on his own.

What happened to the police officer?  
According to subsequent reports, the
State's Attorney charged him with
misdemeanor battery which carries a 1
year jail sentence.  He was lucky.  He
didn't get any jail time, and the police
department didn't fire him.  

Sometimes, people just don't use good
judgement.  Do you think that same
police officer would have used his pepper
spray in the same situation?  Of course,
not.  There is one thing this police officer
did absolutely right... he reported exactly
what he did.  He didn't try to cover up
anything.  You hear a lot about the
"cover-up" being worse than the actual
deed, and that is definitely true.  That's
the reason he didn't go to jail, and he
kept his job.
Use of Force

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Copyright © 2021  Barry M. Baker  
Becoming a Police Officer
An Insider's Guide to a Career
in Law Enforcement
There are Five
Indispensable Truths
for a Successful Police
As a police officer, you'll
be writing something
everyday of your police
career.  Everything you put
to writing, no matter how
seemingly inconsequential,
will be important.
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