Letter: Residents concerned about use of Tasers by police

Monday, June 30, 2008 | 11:44 a.m. CDT; updated 8:50 p.m. CDT, Saturday, July 26, 2008

To the Council:

We are writing to you to express our deep concern over your decision to give additional Tasers to our police officers. The June Columbia Tribune report by Joe Meyer, “Taser project to equip each patrol officer,” reported that “The new Tasers should be available to patrol officers in July.”

We think this rush to arm more officers is ill-advised.

There is much evidence to show that these largely unregulated and unpredictable Tasers can be lethal and very damaging to anyone they are used on. The current guidelines that Chief Boehm has are vague and inadequate to protect us from harmful effects, and they do not sufficiently warn our officers about how dangerous these weapons are.

We have met and decided to educate ourselves and the public on this issue. We have more questions than answers concerning their current use in Columbia. With the assistance of GRO-Grass Roots Organizing, we are organizing a public meeting for Tuesday, July 15, from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the Labor Temple building, 611 N. Garth.

We request your attendance at this meeting so that, with public discussion and input, we all can better decide if we want to risk placing Tasers in the hands of all our officers.

Please consider making it a requirement that the Police Chief suspend completely the Taser training/arming of additional officers until we can consider if the public wants this action taken.

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