Mission Statement - De-Spinning the Pro-Taser Propaganda

Yeah right, 'Excited Delirium' my ass...


The primary purpose of this blog is to provide an outlet for my observations and analysis about tasers, taser "associated" deaths, and the behaviour exhibited by the management, employees and minions of Taser International. In general, everything is linked back to external sources, often via previous posts on the same topic, so that readers can fact-check to their heart's content. This blog was started in late-2007 when Canadians were enraged by the taser death of Robert Dziekanski and four others in a short three month period. The cocky attitude exhibited by the Taser International spokespuppet, and his preposterous proposal that Mr. Dziekanski coincidentally died of "excited delirium" at the time of his taser-death, led me to choose the blog name I did and provides my motivation. I have zero financial ties to this issue.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Taser sets or recommends taser-use policies

Attention members of SECU

Remember when Taser chief Smith testified in Ottawa that Taser does not set taser-use policies?

Compare and contrast to this.

Policy set for use: Glens Falls (NY) Police use the policy recommended by stun gun maker Taser International to guide when and how the tasers are used. Bethel would not release that policy, saying City Lawyer Ronald Newell's opinion was that the policy should not be released, for safety reasons. ... In the Police Department's use of force continuum, the taser is the first option to control someone who is fighting with police... [LINK]

Smith's answer borders on being an outright lie. What Smith did was mislead the members of SECU with an answer that hinged on the subtle gap between 'setting policy' and 'recommending policy'. This is the sort of ethical parameters that you're dealing with when you're dealing with Taser. There is a pattern.

Time to subpoena some documents from Taser, Taser's Canadian distributor, and the RCMP and other forces.


Nate said...

Saw this outrageous story earlier today and was stunned.

The story's a frightening glimpse into the thinking, or lack of thinking, by PD's creating taser usage guidelines.

Glad to see someone else saw this. Thanks for posting about it.

Anonymous said...

Yeah - but PDs don't create taser use guidelines.

Another report said that 95% of police taser policies were basically cut-and-paste from Taser.

95% !!!!!!!


Nate said...

Yeah, that's the horrifying point isn't it? Taser is, through a determined sell effort focused on getting as many X26's in the field as possible, setting what should be open public policy. Sickening.

Having lived in NYC before, through, and after the 2004 RNC, I can tell you that police won't make policy transparent unless they are forced to. That squares with PD's in places like San Jose and upstate NY not being willing to release usage policies, and with the RCMP omitting numbers.

How many people have to die before a broad review of policy happens (in CA or the US)? I'm pessimistic on this, so I won't be waiting with held breath.

Anonymous said...

This whole taser shit-storm is actually a fairly subtle and complicated issue.

What has happened is that Taser has given the issue of ECDs a few little shoves to the right, so that issues is (using a car analogy) into the ditch and halfway up a tree without anyone even noticing.

First thing they did was change from 'safe' 50,000 Hz high frequency on the M26 to only 19 Hz on the X26 introduced in 2003. Walked away from a purported 100:1 safety factor by their own admission. Dropped the current a bit, but not enough to compensate.

Don't believe me? Look at the death rate over the years. Ramps up starting in 2003.

Second, they told everyone that 'the taser' is perfectly safe. It isn't. By my estimation it seems that the 'coincidental' death from X26 hits across the chest are running at low single digit percentages (ultra high as compared to "Safer then Tylenol").

Third, they control the training.

Fourth, they effectively control the policy.

Fifth, they have a propaganda machine that seems to be brainwashing many of the unthinking Type A personalities involved with law enforcement.

Their techniques are quite subtle. And then every now and then they come out with crocodile tears about how they're offended that anyone would suggest they did anything unethical.

If you've ever seen a teenager subtly working the angles with their parents, you can see the same parallels in the management of this company.

Nate said...

Fifth, they have a propaganda machine that seems to be brainwashing many of the unthinking Type A personalities involved with law enforcement.

I couldn't agree more.

I'm not sure of the subtly part though, especially if you keep in mind what matters to Taser at the end of the day (to borrow a business phrase): their bottom line. I guess some of their moves may be subtle, but their motivation of making profitable business is clear and obvious.

On the danger of their devices (and of course I believe you, I've read much of what you've linked as well as the few objective papers I've been able to find on the devices), they are doing plenty of obfuscating, something businesses terrified of culpability do all the time. It's great that there are people pointing that out. I hope that you get good traffic and that people are clicking through to the technical posts. I've written my local legislators a few times about the devices (wherein I've also written about their racially inequitable application).

That's another part of how we've gotten halfway up the tree without the majority of people noticing, the reluctance of elected officials to confront the police. Fear of being seen as soft on crime is old and extremely motivating for politicians. It's one of the clubs being used by NJ legislators pushing to get tasers into the hands of police. Taser has had a huge amount of space to manipulate in because officials aren't willing to even minimally examine the law enforcement officials you summarize so beautifully.