As the Berkeley City Council in California toys around with the idea of allowing cops to carry tasers, a new study published by Stanford Law School earlier this week questions the effectiveness of tasers and other electronic control weapons.
The Berkeley Police Department is pushing the use of tasers in its department, but cannot move forward without the green light from the city council.
The new study questions if the use of tasers actually reduces the use of lethal force by cops.
Or do they just allow cops to torture suspects, whether they end up killing them or not?
The law school’s Justice Center examined 150 studies conducted on tasers, and other similar weapons, and came to the conclusion that the safety measures and effectiveness of taser use among police officials is not as clear as it has been portrayed to be in past years when cops would claim tasers reduced lethal force.
First, the study found that tasers are mostly used in the wrong situations, such as when subjects are on drugs and alcohol, or have mental illnesses and physical disabilities. While the study says tasers have been found effective in minimizing danger for cops, the same cannot be said for the suspects.
The study highlights how taser prongs usually have to be medically removed – a finding most police departments overlook.
“Our own conclusion is that, while the literature suggests that [electronic control weapons] may have benefits, these benefits are easily overstated,” the authors of the study told Vice News.
“Moreover, realizing those potential benefits – such as reducing the rate of injuries to officers and possibly suspects – may require accepting the possibility that vulnerable populations are more likely to be exposed to the painful effects of [electronic control weapons.]”
Back in 2005, another study conducted by The Stanford Criminal Justice Center had similar findings.
“Tasers pose some grave risks that warrant significant research and study. Not enough is known about the risks of taser use to children, the elderly, pregnant women, or those under the influence of drugs,” the document read.
“From what little scientific research exists, it appears that prolonged and/or multiple use of a taser dramatically increases the risk of ventricular fibrillation and consequent cardiac arrest, even in healthy adults. In addition, there appears to be a risk of vision impairment if a subject is tasered in the eye, and of seizure if a subject is tasered in the head. It is unclear whether there are medical risks associated with the barbs that are left in a subject’s body once the probes are removed. There also appear to be permanent, if not fatal, dermatological impairments associated with the use of a taser in stun mode.”
Berkeley Police Chief Michael Meehan disagrees and is urging the council to give his department the green light on taser use.
“The combined body of evidence and decades-long experience leads me to believe that he availability of [electronic control weapons] is in the best interests of our employees and our community,” Meehan told the publication. “I would not say this if I did not think it was in the best interests of both.”
However, a report published just over a year ago stated that there were 634 taser deaths between 2001 and 2014, an average of 48 deaths a year. Or almost one death a week.
Last month, we published a horrid video of a woman named Natasha McKenna who died in a Virginia jail after she was repeatedly tasered.
According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics 81 percent of local police departments in the U.S. are using tasers or similar weapons.