Monday, September 03, 2007

Taser taser

Well apparently some of us across the country are getting more tasers.

I just noted some of the headlines across the media.

Trust the Daily Wail to get completely hysterical and sensationalise an issue that wasn't really there. (Can anyone tell I'm not really a fan of this paper?)

I mean, for goodness sake. To read their headline and leading line- "Police will be allowed to shoot children with Taser stun guns despite concerns it could trigger heart attacks"- conjures up images of officers swanning down the local play park and randomly electifying little Joe on the swings, laughingly telling mum "because we can".

Well, no. I have never heard of any child (I note the mail give no definition of what age you're still a child) but I cannot recall either in my force or reading about any incident where a taser was used or even threatened on someone under 16. The level of justification for using a Taser is at such a high level that there has to be serious risk of serious injury before it can be contemplated, and when lesser means are exhuasted.

Despite the temptation I might often feel when booking in one of our regular juvenile crime waves for the umpteenth time in a month I can't just Taser him because the government haven't expressly forbidden it.

At least the BBC are a little more... well, journalistic about it, questioning the level of training that the new taser recipients are to have.

My own opinion? I certainly don't think all officers should be armed with them. I do think more officers should be armed with them, and they should be more readily available for immediate use on the front line, and not dependent on whether the areas firearms car is tied up with something else and you have a half hour wait for the nearest available one to arrive. For example. I turned up first a domestic the other week to be confronted with the household equivalent of the Marie Celeste- door wide open, things still cooking on the stove. Slightly more disturbing was the evidence of a struggle with things hurled over the floor. Even more disturbing was the unsheathed Samurai sword lying in the middle of the floor. If we had arrived but a few minutes earlier then chances are we'd have found a rather hostile and angry male resident armed with 3 feet of sharpened steel. Baton isn't much use against that.

Taser doesn't even have to be fired to be effective. Its laser sight (I've seen this, and so have others) parked ominously on a suspects chest has been enough to calm him and subdue him to where he follows our requests (usually to get on the floor and be handcuffed).

I am interested to see what the taser training is going to be like for the new non-firearms offcers being equipped with it. I have no idea what it'll be, as the first I heard we were getting more tasers was on the news!