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.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Imagine that - The Federal Government announces a moratorium on tasers

Effective immediately, the Federal Government is imposing a total moratorium (*) on use of any and all Electronic Control Weapons (Tasers) manufactured by Taser International, Inc. The moratorium includes the M26 Advanced, the X26, the X3, all Shockwave systems, and the XREP projectile. This moratorium will be in effect for at least three years while the safety claims made by the manufacturer are studied.

* Note: The above is pure fiction. In other words, it is not true at this time. The above is intended to invoke an emotional reaction in some readers that may be useful in understanding the point of this post.

There's something that I just clearly noticed for the first time today.

I noticed that many police officers are very frightened that someone is going to “take their tasers away”.

FOR EXAMPLE – Someone dares to suggest that perhaps school children shouldn’t be tasered just for laughs (not really a controversial position, is it?). And suddenly the comment debate is populated by self-professed law enforcement personnel preaching the manifold benefits of tasers. [LINK]

FOR EXAMPLE - Someone dares to suggest that perhaps the claims of utter safety are actually not completely true, and that perhaps the taser should be treated as a serious weapon, as opposed to a toy (not really a controversial position, is it?). And suddenly the phones lines light up with police officers calling in with all the stale arguments about how tasers are replacing guns and saving lives. [LINK]

It would be funny except that the resultant irrationality spills over into the on-going debate.

Why do these police officers feel compelled to take these irrational positions?

My guess is that police officers are not only frightened to death for their own safety, many of them are also extremely frightened that they'll be forced to kill another human being.

I know that seems perfectly obvious in hindsight, but it's not often explicitly mentioned in terms of being an actual nightmare-level fear. They rarely speak of it in those terms.

And because they've been indoctrinated by the propaganda-based taser training, they honestly believe that tasers provide an alternate form of force that is "perfectly safe" (as they've been "trained").

Therefore they're scared that if their tasers are "taken away", they'll be forced to kill someone.

This is their nightmare.

And this is why they so vigorously and irrationally defend tasers.

Problem is... ...their approach is counter-productive. Not only to their goals of keeping the taser option available to them, but also to the universal goal of saving lives.

If they defend every taser deployment, even those that are clearly stupid, then they're destroying their own credibility.

FOR EXAMPLE - Those two other callers to the Nick Dial interview. They came across as idiots that weren't even on the same page. Even the talk show host shut them down. And then Mr. Dial had to explain his utterly-reasonable position on taser policy again.

Here are my common sense suggestions for those that want to keep their tasers:

1) Stop providing unlimited and unwavering support for tasers, including obvious cases of overuse, misuse and abuse. If a police office deploys a taser in a non-violent encounter, then do not defend him. Either be highly critical, or silent.

2) Avail yourself of the latest information from sources other than the manufacturer, and stop parroting the old nonsense about how perfectly safe tasers are.

3) Bring yourself up-to-date with where the debate presently is. Stop dragging up old 'strawman' arguments that were already stale in 2008.

4) Acknowledge that tasers are dangerous and potentially-deadly weapons, and they should only be used in violent confrontations.

5) Admit that the manufacturer has significantly understated the risks of taser use. Admit that many in the law enforcement community have been played like dime-store trumpets by the slick-talking stungun salesmen.

6) Agree that most Taser Use Policies requires a significant tightening up.

To be honest, the prospect of a government-mandated moratorium is extremely unlikely.

Much more likely is that the false claims of safety, the "significant" understatement of the risks of taser use, their 'Cardiac Safety' webpage that compares taser hits to being hit with a ping-pong ball, their numerous contradictory claims, etc. ...All these factors are vastly more likely (than a moratorium) to result in Taser International being successfully sued into the next galaxy.

By actively discouraging overuse of tasers, you (as a law enforcement officer) can directly cut back on the number of taser-associated deaths. See this graph [LINK] for how things are going in Canada. Note how taser-associated deaths in Canada have ramped sharply down almost-perfectly coincident with the new rules arising from the Braidwood Inquiry and other policy direction.

If tasers were only ever used to "save lives", then I would not have bothered to start this blog.

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