Activists air concerns about Taser use by Columbia Police

Monday, November 24, 2008 | 4:25 p.m. CST

COLUMBIA — A panel of six activists held a news conference Monday morning to discuss their findings after reviewing the records of 49 Taser incidents released by the Columbia Police Department last month. The Police Department released a response to the conference that same morning.

At the conference, a coalition of various advocacy groups discussed the current concerns with Taser usage in Columbia. They read aloud incidents that they found troubling in the reports and addressed a variety of concerns, such as the need for an oversight committee and how policy should be updated to prevent the use of Tasers on those who are mentally ill.

Ed Berg, a Grass Roots Organizing volunteer and panel member, said the Taser Control Coalition still wants to review records of the 20 Taser incidents that were not included in the police department’s report. The records were not included because they were dismissed, were still pending in court or concerned a juvenile.

In the Police Department's release Monday morning, Interim Police Chief Tom Dresner said that although the department welcomes public debate about its Taser policy, continual "subjective criticism by a third party with an arguable agenda" is not something they can engage in.

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