Research on the implementation of Taser programs needs to be conducted due to the conflicting information that is being generated, from the claims of Taser devices being a non-lethal alternative, and the claims of fatalities arising from the use of Taser devices…
Taser stun guns have recently come under close scrutiny and critiscm because of the risks they pose to the public and their intended use. This has also been fuelled by the increased use of these devices, especially in the United States, and their intended use in the United Kingdom (Feakin 2007). Taser stun guns have been touted as the non-lethal alternative to deadly force and guns (Driscoll 2003, ACLU 2005), which has been viewed as an advantage when it comes to apprehending crime suspects, as it avoids needless deaths and injuries. However, there are figures which show that between 1999 and September 2004, approximately 71 individuals died in North America as a result of the use of the Taser stun gun (ACLU 2005). Whilst some may claim that these deaths are still less than those that come about as a result of the use lethal weapons, this still does raise some issues about whether Taser stun guns should be used at all, and if so, should their use be restricted to certain individuals. There are also figures which show that at the end of 2004, the fatalities from Taser stun guns had increased and there is evidence to suggest these deaths are a result of the incorrect or overuse of the device (ACLU 2005). For instance, there was an incident in the US where a young man was stunned for up to 17 times by the Taser stun guns (ACLU 2005) and this is thought to have contributed to the individual's death. Such incidences have most likely to have been the cause of the public concerns about this device, as it seems that the use of the Taser stun gun device is contributing to deaths, instead of preventing them. In addition to this, the manufacturers of the Taser stun gun have denied any claims that their device has directly contributed to the deaths of any individuals (Driscoll 2003, ACLU 2005).
Despite these safety concerns, the appeal of the Taser stun gun to law enforcement agencies worldwide is appealing. For instance, law enforcement agencies in the UK, do not carry guns and the purchase and use of Taser stun guns is highly attractive as an alternative to considering lethal devices. In the US, law enforcement agencies already carry lethal devices and Taser stun guns are an attractive option to counter-act concerns regarding the deaths of innocent civilians caught in the cross-fire or in instances of mistaken identity. However, the concerns over the current use of Taser stun guns seem to be related to their application and over-use of the device. This has been acknowledged by the International Association of Chiefs of Policy (IACP) which has recommended the re-evaluation of Taser training and the establishment of policies (ACLU 2005), to minimise the deaths from the use of this device. This acknowledgement from the IACP does recognise that the use of t ...
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