Today's question: Finding common ground with Tasers

Friday, March 13, 2009 | 3:35 p.m. CDT; updated 8:45 p.m. CDT, Saturday, March 14, 2009

This article has been changed to correct the fact *that Columbia police officers will not use a Taser on suspects who are fleeing from officers for misdemeanors which don't involve violence or threat of violence; **the analysis from the Police Executive Research Forum is not a certainty since it's an unbudgeted expense. The third change ***to this article was made to better summarize a complex counterargument. For more, please see the comments section.

COLUMBIA — The long-running debate over Taser use by Columbia police may be winding down.

For months, members of the Coalition to Control Tasers have worked with the Columbia Police Department to implement new oversight guidelines. At a City Council meeting two weeks ago, coalition members presented the police with a list of 52 policy guidelines from the Police Executive Research Forum. Currently, the coalition says, Columbia police guidelines follow only 14 of the research forum's guidelines.

Interim Chief Tom Dresner contends that the department's guidelines follow 33 of the 52 research forum guidelines, which include a recent change that forbids officers from using Tasers on fleeing suspects if the crime is a misdemeanor *in which there is no violence or threat of violence.

Dresner has sent the department's guidelines to the research forum for analysis and commentary. Dresner said in a news release Thursday he has no plans to change the department's policy toward Tasers until after the analysis comes back. **And if the cost is too great, the department won't be able to do it at all.

Regardless of the analysis, there are still those in the community who would like to see the Taser go away permanently. They point to incidents like the death of a Moberly man last summer, who was shot with a Taser after getting pulled over on suspicion of driving while intoxicated. The Randolph County coroner later ruled his death a homicide.

The counterargument is that Tasers are an effective tool in law enforcement if used correctly and that the police shouldn't be handcuffed by too many guidelines — after all, ***they should be protecting and serving, not buried underneath unnecessary paperwork.

Are the 52 policy guidelines provided by the Police Executive Research Forum an acceptable compromise to this long-running debate? Why or why not?

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Tom Dresner March 14, 2009 | 2:59 p.m.

Jake, you didn't read my Thursday press release very closely.

I didn't say we'd get back PERF's analysis next week. I said we'd probably hear from them next week on what they intend to charge for that analysis.

If it's too much, we're not going to be able to do it at all.

While I am at it, you're incorrect to state that "a recent change forbids officers from using TASERs if the crime is a misdemeanor." You should have said that we no longer use TASERs on people who are fleeing from officers for misdemeanors which don't involve violence or threat of violence. Big difference.

I also take exception to your counterargument point. We most certainly do want to minimize the chances for permanent injury or death (protect) to those we have to intervene against. We care a great deal about that.

Thanks for reading.

Tom Dresner

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr March 14, 2009 | 3:16 p.m.

Great points Mr Dresner and also this entire community should also realize that with the formation of the new Crisis Intervention Team. Our police officers who go through this highly skilled training program will help to aleve alot of the worry of the uses of Tasers against the mentally ill and the general public as a whole due to this program/training puts many many more tools into the hands of our police officers to use.

Although it will never negate the use of the Taser entirely it does go a very long way in working out sound and reasonable solutions.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz March 14, 2009 | 5:41 p.m.

So Chuck, you aren't against banning Tasers after all (since you won't go on the record one way or the other)?

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr March 14, 2009 | 6:47 p.m.

John Schultz chairman of the Libertarian Party of Boone County. I have gone on record before on this issue and if you are to lazy to go search those comments that is on you alone.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz March 14, 2009 | 7:41 p.m.

Until you say otherwise, I'll assume you don't want to go on the record for whatever reason. Prove me wrong if you wish.

(Report Comment)
Jake Sherlock March 14, 2009 | 7:42 p.m.

Mr. Dresner,

I've e-mailed your comment to the copy desk so that the print version is corrected before it comes out tomorrow.

I apologize for the inaccuracies in my reporting. You are absolutely correct in your statement that police won't use a Taser when there is no threat of violence. I apologize for the error.

I also apologize for not being more clear in presenting the counterargument. I certainly didn't mean to imply that the CPD doesn't care about the safety of every citizen, law-abiding or not. The idea I was trying to present is that members of the public who are in support of Tasers want officers free to do their jobs and not be bogged down by unnecessary paperwork and regulation. At least that's the vibe I get from listening to local talk radio and by following the comments at

Lastly, regarding the mistake on when the analysis would be in, I apologize for not reading the release more clearly.

The erroneous reporting done for this piece is below my personal standards and certainly below the standards we set at the Missourian. I hope you can accept my apologies.

Jake Sherlock
Opinion editor

(Report Comment)
Tom Dresner March 14, 2009 | 9:23 p.m.

Wow, Jake, very nice apology. I appreciate that very much. Don't sweat it a bit. This high tech stuff is very easy to misread, and there's been so much put out during my tenure, by "both sides" in this debate, it can make your head spin.

There's much to consider in this debate, but for us it comes down to the reality of what we have to deal with in our city every day and night, and when force becomes necessary. And that's unfortunate, because it then becomes all about us, when it's largely the choices of the person we're interacting with as to how that confrontation goes.

And absent the TASER, which is the only thing in the toolbox that can temporarily disconnect the resistant brain from the resistant body, we're forced to use pain compliance. Back to the days of hitting, wrestling, kicking, punching, pepper spray etc. Increased lasting injuries to suspects and to us. Not fun to contemplate. But when a moratorium is pushed for, they're in effect saying that's what we (the police) need to go back to doing exclusively.

But we have to do our part too. That means responsible training, policy and oversight. We have to ding our folks if they use it outside of policy, a policy that accurately reflects community standards.

If the public trusts that we're doing it right, then we can have the tool and use it responsibly.

But make no mistake. We need the TASER, and we are working hard to do our part to earn and keep the trust of the entire community. We're not perfect, and we are learning just like you are.

Sadly, some people have died in police custody, and some always will, regardless of the weapon of the day.

I think it's significant that the group of citizens who gets TASERed more than anyone else are police officers. Some estimates put that somewhere north of 750,000 exposures!

We're not dying, but we're ordinarily in good to excellent health and not suffering from the same pre-existing medical conditions that contribute to in-custody deaths.

Total TASER exposures compared to proximal deaths is a hugely disparate number. We've got to keep that in perspective. Because largely, it's the choices of the person being taken into custody as to how that's going to go.

I say that about the mentally ill as well. Despite the fact that they're often not responsible for those choices, we still have to do what we can to mitigate the need for force. That's why we're doing CIT, and so proud that we're about to get that rolling. And we're glad to have the input and investment of people like Chuck Dudley as part of this.

I've gone on long enough, and find myself in the rare position of commenting on a blog, in actuality, rather than just in my head. It's a rare opportunity and fun, though don't look for me to become a regular fixture around here. Not enough hours in the day.

Apologies heartily accepted, though not necessary, but greatly appreciated.

(Report Comment)
Mike Martin March 14, 2009 | 9:53 p.m.

Tom Dresner, interim chief of the Columbia Police Department; John Schultz, Chairman of the Boone County Libertarian Party; Jake Sherlock, Opinion Editor of the Columbia Missourian who needs to pay his columnists; and Charles Dudley, Jr., commenter extraordinaire:

I've taken some heat recently for speaking out against the widespread presence of criminals in our neighborhoods, with the suggestion that if criminals weren't next door, then they might be homeless (because they sure as hell aren't in prison, where they belong).

If concern for homeless criminals seems mindbogglingly moronic, don't be alarmed -- it is.

As for taking heat, the police take way too much of it relative to the amount of crap we expect them to deal with, mostly alone, with little or no support from us, or the high-level public officials we blew millions of tax dollars on, greatly expanding their Boone County Courthouse and their Daniel Boone City Hall.

The police arrest, the courts release, slumlords step in to rent, and the whole cycle starts all over again.

When everyone in Columbia steps up to the plate to fight crime, maybe then we can criticize our men and women in blue for TASER use, et. al.

But until then, the criticisms ring hollow, and really tell only a part of the whole story.

(Please pay careful attention to the dates on the following three stories for a picture-perfect example of exactly what I'm blogging about).


(Report Comment)
Ricky Gurley March 15, 2009 | 12:16 a.m.

Well, it would seem that "The Man" is here and interacting with the public. EXCELLENT! I have always been one to want our government to feel free to interact with us, even if it just on an Internet Forum.

If, you read this, Mr. Dresner, perhaps you will be kind enough to answer a few questions for me?

First of all, i want to say that all of this "stuff" about the Taser being such a bad device, is just that "crap substituted with a more appropriate word = stuff"! I was actually carrying a Taser before most Law Enforcement Officers were, back in the late 90s, when I did Bail Recovery work. And, I actually believe that it is one of the safest devices that can be used to try to gain control of a person that is out of control. Correct me if I am wrong, but I believe most of the injuries that come from a Taser deployment are from the fall (no way for the person to break the fall), not the actual "electrical shock"?

But... I never had to deploy a Taser, I could "talk most people in". I used to have pretty good interpersonal communications skills, so my incident rate while working for Bail Bondsmen was very, very low. Which brings me to my first question.

Do you think laying a heavier emphasis on interpersonal communications skills or "verbal judo" training for Officers, if you will; might bring some of the incidents down that we are seeing?

And my second question......

Is there more of a requirement for an Officer to try to control the subject in a more timely manner than someone that might be working in the private sector? Let me elaborate, do your Officers have to also take into account how long Police resources are tied up on an incident, as opposed to the private sector Recovery Agents that can afford to talk to a person as long as necessary to keep things peaceful?

Third question (actually fourth, if you include the "correct me if I am wrong statement"), how will your Officer's classify "non-violent" and "violent"? Will there be clear rules for what constitutes "violent behavior"? In other words, if a subject does not comply fast enough for an Officer (usually due to confusion) will this be considered "violent behavior"? If a subject turns to face an Officer in an attempt to talk with him, while the Officer is searching him and asking questions of the subject, will this be considered "violent behavior"? I often think that sometimes the problem might be that too much may be left to the Officer's interpretation, and perhaps not "clearly defined"...

Ohhh heck! I did not read all of your response! You had me fooled! I REALLY thought you were Tom Dresner all of the way up to when I read you where you were thanking Chuck for his constant whining......

Go ahead and answer the questions. I'll just pretend the answers are from one of the better Chief's of Police Columbia, MO. has ever had...


(Report Comment)
Tom Dresner March 15, 2009 | 8:50 a.m.

Hi Rick. Good post. And you bring up excellent points. Talking to people that we interact with is an art form. Our most powerful weapons are our mouths, and doing the most we can with that is always something we should strive for and emphasize.

We teach Verbal Judo, and it's one of the best programs we have. I just went to a session of it last Wednesday night.

Could we do more? I am sure we could, but each situation is unique. That's one of the reasons we're doing CIT. That's all advanced communications training, focusing on a verbal approach to dealing with the mentally ill. We're hoping to fully train up to 20 percent of our patrol force in that. We're very excited.

The perception of "violent behavior" is certainly subjective, but it's kind of like the old Supreme Court justice's definition of pornography. It's pretty easy to know it when you see it.

We do everything we do based on what is "reasonable." That's certainly a moving target, but if you can make reasonable assumptions about someone, like you place your hands on them and they tense up and withdraw, or they verbally indicate non-compliance, it's reasonable to think they are going to resist. Resistance is not often passive.

So then the question becomes how much resistance should be tolerated before using weapons, when compliance is mandated by law, even if the officer is wrong for why the arrest is taking place?

That's a hard one. I can tell you that they shouldn't be considering street coverage etc., when dealing with a given situation that will likely remove them from the street for hours.

Could there be more talking in those cases where an arrest is not imminent? I think so. But it's never easy to just say that because every single encounter is so unique on its own merits.

Officers are taught that once the magic words are said, "You're under arrest," that the placing into custody should take place sooner rather than later. That's no longer the time for talking. And for solid tactical reasons, for the safety of both, sooner rather than later is always better.

I have said that the TASER should not be the weapon of FIRST resort. But if escalation is necessary, it might be appropriate to use. The police report has to have articulable facts as to the officer's state of mind and lots of detail about why they thought X force was necessary. They should do that with any use of force, because that is subject to a mandatory review by the supervisor.

We could do a better job of explaining why we do what we do. I think that it's important for people to know that once we say those three words, we're statutorily under no obligation to retreat, and under every obligation to escalate to arrest completion. That's the presumed desire of a lawful society.

I better close. 3000 characters comes quickly.

As for Chuck, I'll say he is one prolific blogger. :) But at least in CIT, he's actively participating in that process, and we're happy about that.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr March 15, 2009 | 9:41 a.m.

>>> As for Chuck, I'll say he is one prolific blogger. :) But at least in CIT, he's actively participating in that process, and we're happy about that. <<<

Thank you Mr Dresner for the compliment. So many times average people tend to forget that not everybody can do all thinks but we do learn to work with in our means with the talents we are given.

(Report Comment)
Ricky Gurley March 15, 2009 | 10:00 a.m.

That was great post, Chief Dresner. Hope you don't mind me still calling you Chief? To be quite honest, I think the city could have saved a ton of money, and had the best leader they could get in place if they would have just let you take over as Chief. I know some people are saying that I am "brown nosing; shall we say? But, anyone that knows me, would know that is not me, I am probably too blunt for my own good often enough. I liked Chief Boehm, I think he did a great job considering some of the obstacles that he had top overcome towards the end of time at CPD, but I saw a noticeable improvement in transparency and accountability when you took over. I really believe our CPD was heading in the right direction towards gaining better community trust when you were at the helm.

Hope you don't mind the "ribbing" in regards to Chuck either. He and I have different views on the use of the Taser. My biggest concern has always been one of "balance" in regards to Taser usage. And this HAS to be difficult for you. How do you establish clear guidelines and rules for its deployment, but still give the Officer a sense of confidence when having to make "judgment calls" in the field, so he or she does not try to "second guess theirself" and wind up getting theirself hurt or someone else hurt due to losing "critical seconds" because they may not feel confident that they can deploy the Taser without a lot of "after-criticism" for doing so?

I have to say, I just wonder what is happening sometimes with some of the incidents that I see reported. You know, I have been here in Columbia, MO. about 10 years now. I am a Private Investigator, I specialize in Criminal Defense Investigations (a focus on cyber-crimes), surveillance, process service, and general investigations. IF, the CPD were as bad as some people make them out to be, you'd think that I would have had a ton of "bad incidents" with CPD. Well, I have to say, I have had NO "bad incidents" with CPD, and at the times when I have had "slight issues" with something that has occurred where CPD was involved, I was treated with respect, dignity, and I have even had a Sargent and a LT. acknowledge that some things could have been done a little better and they would speak to their Officers about these things. I have had CPD Officers ride up on me while I was on surveillance, and actually make great efforts to leave as quickly as possible in order to try to prevent from "burning" me, after they identified what I was doing and who I was. I don't think I could ask for more professionalism than that. So, I don't see the "problems" that some people always seem to be complaining about.

I believe that all and all, we have a good Police Department.

Anyway, thank you for interacting with us all here. I appreciate the opportunity that you are giving the community to interact with you also.

Take care.


(Report Comment)
Tom Dresner March 15, 2009 | 2:17 p.m.

Thank you for the kind words, Rick. I appreciate that very much.


(Report Comment)
Linda Green March 16, 2009 | 3:58 p.m.

Through all this discussion, it is good to keep in mind that Columbia still has insufficient police regulations, and inadequate oversight of police TASER use. This leaves the Columbia Police Department and the City of Columbia insufficiently protected against litigation, and our citizens and visitors to this city insufficiently protected against serious injury or death related to police TASER use.
(You can still obtain from the Columbia Police Department, at no cost, a CD of 48 cases of local Police TASER use, which will give you some idea of the problems surrounding the use of this weapon.)

Just one example of a potential scenario that could land our city on the front pages of newspapers and in court--we have many foreign students here, many of whom do not speak English well, and a little bit of miscommunication or confusion could lead to unintended hesitation to obey a police order, which could lead to an unfortunate TASER incident. This is not the kind of reputation Columbia wants to have.
Every day of delay in adopting the Police Executive Research
Forum PERF standards and gearing police TASER training to PERF guidelines is another day of vulnerability for all concerned.

(Report Comment)
Dan Viets March 18, 2009 | 12:33 a.m.

Mike Martin (aka Columbia Heartbeat),
If we're going to evict and permanently imprison all "criminals" we must define the term. Are those who violate traffic laws, minors in possession of alcohol, DWI's, misdemeanor marijuana possessors, overtime parkers all included? Apparently you find such questions "mindbogglingly moronic", but "If you can't take the heat. . .". I know that you can though.
Dan Viets

(Report Comment)
Mike Martin March 18, 2009 | 8:15 a.m.

@Dan Viets:

"Are those who violate traffic laws, minors in possession of alcohol, DWI's, misdemeanor marijuana possessors, overtime parkers all included?"

Of course not. But we're letting violent criminals like Malcolm Redmon who chronically re-offend wander our streets. They shouldn't be in our neighborhoods -- they should be in prison.

I would add, though, that if the minors in possession of alcohol are raising the kind of hell they've been raising in the Grasslands, out they go. I wouldn't tolerate that garbage for a minute.

If we want our police department to chill out, then we're going to have to help them combat this growing menace. It's just like the humane society, city council, school board, teachers, etc. -- we pile things on to underpaid or unpaid people, then expect minor miracles and raise hell when things go wrong.

What's really happening is that the underpaid and unpaid are subsidizing the overpaid, who'd rather spend millions on palatial offices and salary increases than on basic human services that may not directly help them.

-- Mike

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr March 18, 2009 | 8:43 a.m.

>>> What's really happening is that the underpaid and unpaid are subsidizing the overpaid, who'd rather spend millions on palatial offices and salary increases than on basic human services that may not directly help them. <<<

That ain't no lie brother!!!

(Report Comment)
Ricky Gurley March 18, 2009 | 12:10 p.m.

Making criminals homeless does nothing to lower crime in our city... if anything, it will just make the problem even worse...

GIVING them a "home", complete with guards and bars, WILL curtail some of the crime...


(Report Comment)
Tom Dresner March 18, 2009 | 1:12 p.m.

Hey Linda, great to see you here. I have really enjoyed our discussions on this issue.

Can I ask you a question?

The first time GRO indicated that PERF adoption was the desire, in Mary's direct communication with me, the title of that email was "Let's get some resolution."

In that email, I took Mary to mean that if PERF standards were adopted by CPD, GRO would, in effect, "have resolution" at that point. Do I have that right? Seems so from your comments above, and from Mary and Ed.

And if so, can I then correctly assume that you won't be supporting the state bill that includes the moratorium on TASER use pending the outcome of the task force study, should this legislation become law?

I am curious about that. GRO has maintained all along that they support TASERS for us with proper training, oversight and policy.

It feels like support for a moratorium would run counter to that.

Thanks much!


(Report Comment)
Ricky Gurley March 18, 2009 | 6:27 p.m.

I have read through some of the PERF and the IACP Guidelines.. And the first thing that I should say is that I have just started reading this material about 30 minutes ago. So, I will wait a week or two before I give my personal opinion on these guidelines for Taser use (for whatever it is worth. LOL.).

But I did note one thing that I just fail to understand. In both set of guidelines I saw a mention of not using the Taser on someone handcuffed unless they were going to harm theirself or were actively resisting arrest.

Now, for the life of me I can not understand how it is that several or even just two Officers can not adequately restrain a person in handcuffs. I mean, maybe I am just wrong here, but I remember what it was like to deal with a person that was trying to resist while they were in handcuffs, and I gotta say I never had a problem with safely restraining a person without injury to them or myself once they were trying to resist while in handcuffs. Typically I had a partner with me, and that made it a lot easier. But I am having a hard time understanding why there would be a need to deploy a Taser on someone that is properly handcuffed under any circumstances?

I DO understand the need to deploy the Taser BEFORE the handcuffs are on, and AFTER the person has been informed that they are under arrest, IF they physically resist.. I have witnessed resistance in that period of time first hand, and it always escalates, and the person resisting seems to get a little more of an "adrenalin rush" and can do some fairly surprising things at these times. That is why I have no problems with giving the Officer discretion in the field with deploying the Taser if the person is physically resisting arrest and is not restrained by handcuffs.

I am just having a hard time understanding the need to deploy the Taser on a person that is properly handcuffed?


(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr March 18, 2009 | 6:57 p.m.

>>> I am just having a hard time understanding the need to deploy the Taser on a person that is properly handcuffed? <<<

I think that is the number one concern of all citizens who speak out on this issue.

They got the person in cuffs. They can use leg restraint belts. Those same cuffs and leg belts can be attached to each other by a chain accessory.

Where is the suspect going to go or actually do?

They yes could hurt themselves if they are totally out of control but once a suspect is in restraints usually they mellow out if left alone.

The only case is if the person if off their psych meds, having a total psychotic break or something worse due to a medical condition.

Great points Rick.

(Report Comment)
Ricky Gurley March 18, 2009 | 11:06 p.m.

I have said how I feel about deploying the Taser on someone that is handcuffed.

But, in defense of the Officers that have to make decisions out in the field when it comes to deploying the Taser, I am not sure that most people understand what is going on in that time that the Officer is trying to get a person to comply with his or her commands, or trying to place the person under arrest...

The reason that I WANT our Officers to feel that they can make the call on the deployment of the Taser in the field, when trying to get the subject to comply or trying to place the subject under arrest, BEFORE the handcuffs are properly placed on the subject, is because there are many things that we as citizens don't take into account that the Officer has to take into account.

(1) Weapon Retention: Would not want the bad guy to be able to equip himself with a nice, new, shiny 9mm courtesy of CPD, now would we? Even with the holsters that are used these days that are designed to give the Officer greater weapon retention and control, if the subject can "close distance" on the Officer, and get behind the Officer, it is not that hard to unholster the Officer's weapon. 21 foot rule comes into play here also. For those that don't know, the average man can cover 21 feet before an Officer can unholster and aim his firearm. This is a Public Safety and an Officer Safety issue.

(2) Public Safety: Are innocent bystanders nearby? Could the "bad guy" that is out of control use one as a hostage or a "shield"? If so, it is necessary to contain the subject with EXTREME speed and efficiency.

(3) Subject's Safety: Is the subject escalating into something that may turn even more violent? If so, are there objects around that the subject could fall on, or trip over and wind up physically injured? If so, is it better to go ahead and use the force that the Officer can have greater control over rather than allowing the subject to escalate the situation to where the Officer might have to use more extreme measures to contain the subject since he has lost control over the situation?

And here, we have days and days to debate these issues, to think about how we would handle these issues if we were in that situation. We can think about this, and then post that we would do in this and that situation. But, the reality is, in the field the Officer has to make these decisions and take all of this into account before you can even press the first key on your keyboard to respond to my post.

That is why we need to make sure that the CPD knows that we support their Officer's when they have to make these decisions out in the field, because the alternative has more potential to get people hurt.


(Report Comment)
Donald Love March 19, 2009 | 8:49 a.m.

Chief Dresner left this comment on 3/14:

“And absent the TASER, which is the only thing in the toolbox that can temporarily disconnect the resistant brain from the resistant body, we're forced to use pain compliance. Back to the days of hitting, wrestling, kicking, punching, pepper spray etc.”

This thinking continues to worry me, worry the group I represent (Missouri Association for Social Welfare) and worry other members of the Coalition to Control Tasers.

The Taser manufacturer recognizes that Tasers can kill. The essence of the PERF guidelines is that because Tasers are lethal, careful safeguards are required – their 52 guidelines. National records and nearby experience in Moberly and Hallsville testify to their danger.

Chief Dresner implies, however, that Tasers are a less dangerous alternative to batons – and this evidently is what members of the Columbia Police Department have been taught. I understand the police wish for a magic weapon to control suspects but do no harm. The Taser is not this weapon; Tasers kill people.

Chief Dresner continues, “…Columbia has high standards. As a university town, we must have a police department that uses only the degree of force needed.” The Columbia Police Department does have a pretty good record of controlling the use of force. Chief Dresner has made progress in reforming guidelines. The Coalition welcomes his report that some actions by officers have been wrong.

We can certainly get to common ground on Tasers and then move on, but the common ground has to start with recognition that Tasers are lethal and therefore can’t be used as high tech batons that don’t leave marks.

Imagine a situation in which officers believe the Taser merely causes a few seconds of pain, after which the target quickly recovers. Officers pull over a driver for a lane violation. They know from past experience the person has an attitude. When told to put his hands behind his head, the person pulls out his cell phone. The officers think, Let’s just let the Taser enforce compliance. The officers aren’t expecting harm to the suspect. When he collapses, they assume he is faking. By the time they realize he has lost consciousness and call for medical help, the driver is dead.

This hasn’t happened in Columbia yet, but it could have happened because officers don’t take seriously the damage Tasers can inflict. Something similar happened in Moberly.

If police officers continue to be taught that Tasers are non-lethal alternatives to hitting, someone is going to die, the city will face litigation and the reputation of our community will suffer. Chief Dresner’s remarks about the Taser in the toolbox might even be useful to a lawyer seeking to prove that Columbia had not followed manufacturer recommendations and national standards.

Don Love, Columbia
Missouri Association for Social Welfare
Central Chapter Chair/Human Rights Task Force Chair

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking March 19, 2009 | 9:25 a.m.


Every weapon (or combat technique) a police officer might use has to potential to kill. Over 100 people have died after being pepper sprayed, for example. The TASER is no different - it's a two edged sword like anything else.

More police officers have been TASERed in training than arrest subjects have. They don't do this with batons or firearms. I think that says a whole lot about the TASERs safety.


(Report Comment)
MARY HUSSMANN March 19, 2009 | 10:12 a.m.

In April of 2008, TASER International, in light of experiencing many lawsuits from law enforcement personnel, issue a new TASER policy that declares, "TASER International, Inc. does not require a TASER device electrical discharge ("TASER Exposure") as a condition for instructor or user TASER certification. They further state, "If you volunteer to experience a TASER exposure, you MUST read and sign this Form PRIOR to any TASER exposure." The name of the required Form is, "Instructor and User Warnings, Risks, Liability Release and Covenant Not To Sue".

(Report Comment)
John Schultz March 19, 2009 | 10:35 a.m.

Mary, just how many officers have sued Taser over being under power during training?

Wasn't Pete Herring's injuries due to him not being held/caught during his training, and not due to the Taser application itself? That is what I believe I have heard in the past.

(Report Comment)
Ricky Gurley March 19, 2009 | 10:45 a.m.

Mr. Love, you seem to have a great distrust towards Police. I could not help but notice this comment here: "but the common ground has to start with recognition that Tasers are lethal and therefore can’t be used as high tech batons that don’t leave marks."

Ya know, I don't believe ANY Officer cares about there being signs of a struggle left after they have made a lawful arrest. Not that it is not unfortunate that sometimes marks are left from a struggle, but to bring this issue up seems to imply that the Officer would be doing something "wrong" or unlawful in making the arrest, and would want to try to cover it up by insuring that no evidence is left behind. That is the only circumstance in which I could see an Officer being concerned about marks being left on the subject after having to use force to place the subject under arrest ...

I then read this statement in your post: "The officers think, Let’s just let the Taser enforce compliance."
Do you REALLY believe that the Police take the issue of the use of force so lightly? I mean, if for no other reason at all, do you think the Officer wants to be sitting at the Police Department writing up "mounds" of reports and such paperwork? I have a hard time believing that our Police Officers would deploy a Taser using that particular thought process.

The fact is, it is a lot harder to control the physical damage to the subject when having to use a PR-24 than it is when using the Taser. A subject can still manage to resist with several broken bones, but can not resist when the Taser is deployed. I think that is what Chief Dresner was trying to say.

I also have to agree with Mark. EVERY device the Officer carries has the potential to be lethal. CapStun can be lethal for those that suffer from certain respiratory problems. The PR-24 can be lethal if the subject is struck with it in the wrong place. I like to give this example. If you equipped the Police with a backpack full of cookies to try to bring an unwilling person under compliance with, you'd still have a device or method that could injure or even kill a certain percentage of the population, if used to make an arrest. The point here is that the Officer has to make decisions that are going to minimize risk to innocent bystanders, himself or herself, and the subject. I believe the Taser fits that bill.

My thoughts are that this problem is not as one sided as the community has been led to believe. This problem as we are seeing it is as much of a problem because of an unjustified distrust of the Police as it is due to any inadequate training or guidelines for Taser deployment. There seems to be a feeling that the Police have been given a "toy" to test out on people that don't comply with their commands, and that they test this toy at any available opportunity. I think this is wrong, and I think we should have a little more faith and respect in our Police Department than that.


(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr March 19, 2009 | 11:19 a.m.

At a Crisis Intervention Team Training meeting this morning the subject was brought up of not only Tasers being used to subdue a suspect but proper after care of the subduing of a suspect even after the cuffs are applied due to a life threatening condition called Excited Delirium that if not properly cared for can cause and has caused death in many apprehended individuals.

This is a situation all police officers face across the nation when apprehending any suspect and the subsequent arrest and hand cuffing.

Yes Tasers could be a cause of this Excited Delirium but the focus is on the immediate after care of any subject in cuffs.

I know this will open up a entire new line of thought on Tasers and subsequent debate here but we as citizens must do our part in trying to understand the job of apprehending suspects police officers have and what even the police officer is going through at those moments.

This use of Tasers not only effects suspects but it effects officers too more than any citizen might realize.

Excited Delirium:

(Report Comment)
Ricky Gurley March 19, 2009 | 11:58 a.m.

There is no such a thing as "Excited Delirium", it is a MYTH! It is made up. I have said this before, and I will say this now.

There is no mention of it in the DSM. There is no formal medical recognition for it (as in a peer reviewed standard for their being such a condition). Try to qualify a person as an expert on "Excited Delirium" in a Daubert Hearing and see what happens!

The Canadian Medical Association Journal dismisses it as a "pop culture phenomenon".And I might mention that we seem to be taking our leads on the Taser from Canada!

Police psychologist Mike Webster testified at a British Columbia inquiry into Taser deaths that police have been "brainwashed" by Taser International to justify "ridiculously inappropriate" use of the electronic weapon. He called "excited delirium" a "dubious disorder" used by Taser International in its training of police.

In almost all cases, this "condition" has a direct correlation with narcotics usage to include alcohol in some cases.

The term is made up.

Here is the deal. The Taser presents a less than lethal alternative to subduing a person that is out of control, and may cause harm to theirself or others. As with ANY device their are certain risk factors. Most of those risk factors are dependent upon the condition of the person that the Taser is being deployed on. There are many of these "risk factors" that are not apparent or visible to the Officer when he or she has to make the decision to deploy the Taser. The Officer can not nor should they be held accountable for "things unknown to them". EVEN if these "risk factors" were known to the Officer, the Officer would still have to weigh the potential for injury to the subject against the potential breach of public safety, and would still have to conclude that Taser deployment would be in the interest of public safety, in such a situation. Once a subject responds violently to an Officer that is trying to get him to comply to lawful orders, the risks have already begun, at that point the risks are reduced by trying to get the subject under control as quickly as possible, even if the Taser has to be deployed to do this.

Often times there is a good possibility that a person might have a respiratory condition that might make them vulnerable to respiratory problems due to a release of adrenalin in the system when a person becomes "excited".

I am sure that nobody here likes to be placed in a"damned if I do and damned if I don't situation. But, we are placing these Officers in a situation like this.

Perhaps all that is needed is stronger disciplinary procedures when it is determined that an Officer has used the Taser in an inappropriate manner?

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr March 19, 2009 | 12:10 p.m.

If you think there is no such thing then please contact Diane Bernhard of the CPD and ask her all about it and why it is going to be talked about by professional medical personnel at the upcoming Crisis Intervention Team training coming up in two months.

You can also ask her or Tim Harlan why it is also included into the Crisis Intervention Team training protocols established by NAMI.

It is not just associated with a Taser Deployment but it is associated with other cases of suspect apprehension.

(Report Comment)
Ricky Gurley March 19, 2009 | 12:49 p.m.

I don't have to ask any of those people, Chuck. But here is what you should ask them, ask them if they are confident that they could qualify as an expert on "Excited Delirium" in a Daubert Hearing when pitted against a knowledgeable defense attorney. If they say yes, they are LYING to you! There is NO way that they can be confident that they could qualify as an expert in a Daubert Hearing, when there is NO peer reviewed articles in the scientific community that conclude that there is such a condition as "Excited Delirium". AND, Chuck; I'd tell them that siting right in front of them looking them directly in the eye!

Chuck, my company has qualified some of it's people as expert witnesses. I understand the difference between "junk science" and REAL science! "Excited Delirium" is "junk science terminology"!

Again, you will not find that term in the DSM! Again, you will not find any peer reviewed medical publications and/or articles that acknowledge such a condition as "Excited Delirium"! And EVEN a cross section of Police Specialists agree that the term "Excited Delirium" is DUBIOUS, at best!

This is where you demonstrate a lack of knowledge, Chuck! Your heart is in the right place, but you are not capable of making your own determinations and/or conclusions because you don't have any experience in doing so.

If you had ever apprehended a person and transported them to a jail, you'd know that emotional changes start to take place in that person when they realize they are going to jail. It is a natural response in how a person handles fear. I have seen a person's breathing get shallow while they were sitting in the front seat of my car, handcuffed and completely compliant, as we started to approach the jail; is that "Excited Delirium", Chuck?

We have always known that fear produces certain physical changes in a person. It causes the release of adrenalin, it can cause a person to experience nausea, it can cause a person to sweat or their skin to become "clammy", but that is NOT a case of "Excited Delirium", it is the body's natural response when placed in a situation that causes a person to experience fear!

Now, some people have weaker respiratory systems than others, some people have respiratory problems that they are unaware of, and some people have weakened their respiratory system with long term narcotics usage. These factors can cause a person to be at risk of serious respiratory problems when that person's body is overwhelmed with fear. People have been known to suffer strokes and heart attacks at just hearing traumatic news!

The term "Excited Delirium" only gives the perception that Taser International is trying too hard to defend itself! It doesn't have to. It has developed a tool that when used responsibly provides an outstanding alternative to the use of a firearm!

A lot of this, is much ado about nothing!


(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr March 19, 2009 | 5:07 p.m.

Well Rick there are too many references out there that state this is a real condition that needs immediate medical care or the suspect turned patient could die right there on the scene.

Obviously you did not read anything from that link I posted at all but instead only posted from your own thinking or knowledge. That is not looking at the issue from all angels of thought but only from a closed mindedness point of view.

Do defense attorney's have hidden agendas on this issue? I'll let the citizens decide after they go research the issue for themselves.

So you are saying Wiki is wrong:

So you are saying MSNBC did not do it's foot work either:

You are also saying this medical research here is all wrong too suppose:

In the state of Excited Delirium the body becomes "Acidic" or it becomes toxic unto itself and has to be treated ASAP or the person is likely to die. Often times it is misdiagnose to late.

The officers I talked to and heard today at the Columbia Police Department Crisis Intervention Team Training Committee Session were very aware and infact concerned highly on this issue after doing their own research of other law enforcement case studies.

The Mental Health Professionals that attended as well were talking how important this issue really is.

(Report Comment)
Ricky Gurley March 19, 2009 | 5:23 p.m.

read your own links, Chuck. Here is what Wikipedia says about "Excited Delirium":

"Excited delirium is a controversial term used to explain deaths of individuals in police custody, in which the person being arrested or restrained shows some combination of agitation, violent or bizarre behavior, insensitivity to pain, elevated body temperature, or increased strength.[1] It has been listed as a cause of death by some medical examiners.[2"

That is the first paragraph from Wikipedia, notice the word CONTROVERSIAL!

Here is another sentence from Wikipedia: "The term has no formal medical recognition and is not recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders."

That is the second sentence in the second paragraph of Wikipedia, Chuck.

Here is another quote from Wikipedia, Chuck: "Eric Balaban of the American Civil Liberties Union said: "I know of no reputable medical organization — certainly not the American Medical Association (AMA) or the American Psychological Association (APA) that recognizes excited delirium as a medical or mental-health condition."[4]"

That is the fifth paragraph on "Excited Delirium" in Wikipedia, or the third paragraph under "Disputed Validity".

Also Wikipedia quotes a POLICE PSYCHOLOGIST as saying: "Police psychologist Mike Webster testified at a British Columbia inquiry into Taser deaths that police have been "brainwashed" by Taser International to justify "ridiculously inappropriate" use of the electronic weapon. He called "excited delirium" a "dubious disorder" used by Taser International in its training of police.[11]"

That is the seventh paragraph in Wikepedia under "Excited Delirium", or the fifth paragraph under "Disputed Validity", Chuck.

Either READ your own sources before you quote them, OR understand what you are reading before you quote it as a source, Chuck!

The fact that there is no peer reviewed articles and/or publications that agree that "Excited Delirium" is a legitimate condition, and it is not listed in the DSM, MEANS Chuck, that it can't be argued as a condition in a court of law, and least not against any "half wit, first year, law student", anyway..


(Report Comment)
Ricky Gurley March 19, 2009 | 5:48 p.m.

Here is a link for you, Chuck:

Now, if you want to title how the body responds to an adrenalin dump when it's respiratory system has been weakened by cocaine usage over a period of time as "Excited Delirium", okay I'll let that pass.. But the fact is, it is still a risk factor that is self imposed by the subject of the arrest! AND, the Officer has NO way of knowing that the subject's body is going to respond in a way that could cause respiratory problems when he or she deploys the Taser.

Try to understand Chuck, that originally the term "Excitement Delirium" was ONLY a DESCRIPTIVE PHRASE used to describe symptoms that occur in a person that has had a prolonged exposure to dangerous drug abuse when placed in a situation that induces extreme fear. That is all the term "Excitement Delirium" was ever designed to do, provide a description for how the body of a person that has used dangerous narcotics over a period of time responds in situations that produce extreme fear. That is all it has ever been meant to be, Chuck.

Isn't it interesting Chuck that the term "Excitement Delirium" was coined in 1985, in Miami Florida, at the exact same time when crack cocaine started to gain it's popularity and become actively marketed in Miami, Florida as the popular method for using cocaine to get high with?


(Report Comment)
Ricky Gurley March 19, 2009 | 6:16 p.m.

So, Chuck. In conclusion, is there a such a thing as "Excited Delirium"? Sure there is! There is also a such a thing as a person "going bonkers" too! But neither are a medical or psychological condition!

What would be the desired way to handle someone that seems to be in a state of "Excited Delirium"? Well, if it can be identified, and there is adequate time to do so, get medical personnel on the scene, medical personnel that are qualified to administer sedatives. This is how Emergency Room Doctors have had much success in saving the lives of people that are in this state.

If not, and there is no time, the Officer is STILL under such circumstances in the position of having to weigh the risk of causing an injury by deploying the Taser on the subject against public safety (the well being of innocent bystanders). In which case, I would certainly hope that he well being of innocent bystanders would trump the risk of injury to the subject that is not complying with the Officer's orders!

Again, this whole issue over Tasers is just CRAP that makes the Police Officer's job at the very least extremely difficult, and in some cases impossible!

The fact is, Tom Dresner can't come on here and say these things. He is a Public Official, and he has to be careful of what he says, EVEN IF IT IS A HARD COLD REALITY! But, I am under no obligation to "coddle" anyone that can't understand that our Police Officer's should not have to deal with this kind of distracting B.S. when they are out in the field having to make decisions to protect the public!

Am I saying that the Police are always right? Nope! We all make mistakes. But, when you are placed under arrest, the INTELLIGENT thing to do is simply comply, go to jail, post your bail, go home, and bring up your issues in a civil manner at the appropriate time and place!

And if you can't afford to post your bail, then enjoy your time off at the expense of the state! And ya know, if they had wireless Internet, and they'd let me take my laptop to jail, I might get arrested on PURPOSE; Tom do ya think you could speak to Warren Brewer about that? Just injecting some humor here! LOL.


(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr March 19, 2009 | 7:00 p.m.

Me thinks you protesteth far to much for somebody who says they support the police and then on the other hand you say you are on defense councils against them in court.

As I said why don't you go talk to Diane Bernhard about this issue if it so irrelevant to C.I.T. training.

I know for a hard fact she will talk with you as I am sure other trained C.I.T. officers on the CPD.

(Report Comment)
Ricky Gurley March 19, 2009 | 7:32 p.m.

Chuck says: "Me thinks you protesteth far to much for somebody who says they support the police and then on the other hand you say you are on defense councils against them in court."

And me thinketh you have problems understanding basic concepts, Chuck....

Like, the fact that I work for Defense Attorney's does not indicate in any way that I am biased against the Police, Chuck. It is my job, it is what I do to earn a living. And I do it honestly!

As a matter of fact, I am a "good Police Officer's" most loyal ally and a "bad Police Officer's" worst enemy! But, you would not understand that. But, a small explanation for you, Chuck. Since you like to bring this up often enough, when you are being proven wrong about something by me... If a Police Officer does everything by the book in his investigation, and the case he is working goes to court, and I have to testify in that case, all I can do is confirm his findings, anything else would be perjury! Let that concept sink in for a minute before you reply, Chuck....

I don't want to talk to the Police about this, Chuck. The fact that they pacify people like you that constantly whine and complain about everything they do is enough to make me understand that they are going to have to tell me (a member of the public) the same thing they tell you! If the Police could actually make a public statement about the reality of what they face and the decisions they have to make in their line of work, people like you just could not grasp such a harsh reality! So, they pacify you, and deal with you as you are, a harmless person, that complains simply due to a lack of real world experience in what they have to encounter on the streets, Chuck!

The fact is Chuck, here in Columbia KIDS are walking the streets carrying firearms! And organized groups of people are plotting to profit from forcibly and if necessary violently making dangerous narcotics available to children and people with addiction problems! And there are people walking the streets right now, armed with firearms, that care more about their tennis shoes than they do a human life!

And ignorant people like you expect the Police to unnecessarily place theirself at risk in dealing with this type of an environment by treating these thugs, like pre-schoolers that were talking during quiet time! I WANT our Police to be safe EVEN at the expense of an occasional injury to a "bad guy", Chuck!

It's not really the fact that you speak without really knowing what you are speaking about that bothers me, Chuck! It's the fact hat you actually "armchair quarterback" like you DO know, or have been there. When in reality, you really don't have a clue!

Your one redeeming value Chuck, is that despite the fact that you don't have a clue, your heart is in the right place, and I do believe your intent is good and honorable! Even if what results from that intent is just a bit annoying...


(Report Comment)
Tom Dresner March 19, 2009 | 10:13 p.m.

Rick, you're in overdrive today. :)

I appreciate what you've said, and you're staking out a well informed position.

You're incorrect about a few things though. And mainly I can mind my p's and q's around here, and have pretty good freedom to comment, it's mainly a lack of time that prevents more frequent contribution.

It's often thought of in my circles as a bad idea for a person in a position like mine to participate here. What the heck, it's been productive, I think, so far.


Excited Delirium is not a medical condition per se, and if someone says in court that excited delirium killed someone, they'd be grossly incorrect.

There has been some medical validation lately of the term, though. Really recent. I am waiting on a cite for the right outfit.

It's validated to describe the set of symptoms that you've been articulating here, and is used to categorize these people who are dying in police custody, and have been for the very same reasons, long before the TASER ever entered the scene.

There are medically accepted cousins to the term, that are in the DSM and other accepted places that you hold in high regard.

For example, the International Classification of Disease lists several conditions closely related:

Abnormal Excitement;
296.00S Manic Excitement; 799.2AM Psychomotor Excitement;
307.9AD Agitation; 799.2V Psychomotor Agitation; 780.09E
Delirium; 293.1J Delirium of Mixed Origin; 292.81Q Delirium,
Drug Induced.

So, hang with me, ok?

You're close on what you have described today in these people, but adrenaline is not the culprit.

Toxic acidosis is.

So, in short, if Rick and Tom have a big lunch at Addison's, then decide to sprint, no holds barred to Columbia Regional Airport, at some point, our brains are going to tell our bodies, factoring in our ages, condition, etc., and is then at point X going to say, time to stop now, really bad idea. You're going to start bad things happening if you keep this up.

And then we bend over and gasp for breath, probably well short of Broadway and Old 63. (Speaking for myself of course)

In those who for whatever reason don't get that STOP NOW signal from the brain, and keep say, fighting the police, there comes a point at which the toxins in the bloodstream from exertion surpass the body's ability to purge it at an acceptable rate.

And that starts the blood pH swing in a very bad way.

I am told (and any doctor is invited to correct me anywhere here!) that a two point swing in blood pH in either direction is likely fatal. Even if the person is on a table in the ER when it happens.

And guess what. A lot of these people are being TASERED.

And then the TASER is blamed for killing them.

Anyway, I'd ask you not to be quite so hard on the term. It's out there, and it's used with validity to describe some of the people we're facing.

I bet I am close to 3000, so I am going to quit for now.

Thanks for your comments. :)

(Report Comment)
Tom Dresner March 19, 2009 | 10:26 p.m.

I should state that this is merely one aspect of my personal quest to educate myself more about this device.

I hope no one reads into my comments that this is where I have landed, and that I am therefore immovable. I just want to learn more and never stop. It's so important, and yet I know that my words are watched more closely than most. I just really like to express myself honestly about where I am coming from on this, and then people can draw conclusions based on their own individual frames of reference.

(Report Comment)
Ricky Gurley March 19, 2009 | 11:48 p.m.

Thanks Chief, I learned something too. The Toxic Acidosis makes perfect sense to me, since I have a very basic understanding of Keto Acidosis and how it can be dangerous when it is severe enough to effect the ph levels in the blood; due to the fact that I am a diabetic. Makes perfect sense to me! My statements about adrenalin just come from how adrenalin is released in the body as a response when we are frightened, and how adrenalin can have an effect on the heart.

As far as the sprint from Addison's goes, perhaps you would make it to Broadway, I'd be lucky to make it to 9th St.! LOL.

Overall, here is where my frustration begins! I KNOW we have made SIGNIFICANT progress in safer and more compassionate Policing in our society in the past 20 years. Correct me if I am wrong, but our Police Departments actually keep footage of the more violent incidents so they can study this footage and try to form safer and better methods to handle such incidents in the future. I don't think that it is a case of the People that are in charge at the Police Department not caring, I think they are already doing all they can to try to keep everyone, even the "bad guy" safe, in regards to physical injury! Sometimes, I think that there can be too much mistrust from the citizenry, that is really not called for, and that can cause problems in and of itself. If that makes sense? I have seen and done a lot of things in my life. And I will tell you one thing that I KNOW to be true. When I was a young man, I was a disrespectful, rebellious, punk that was heading to "thugville" fairly fast, and I had my problems with the Police! The Police "always seemed to be there". As I got older, and figured out that I just wanted to have a decent life, own something, have someone that cared about me, and make a future for myself, and that his meant "playing by the rules", the Police seemed to "magically disappear". I think the Police have a pretty good gauge on where to focus their efforts. So, I think somewhere along the line, somebody started believing some of the "bad guys" B.S., and here is where we have landed with too much distrust of the Police. And that is kinda frustrating to the people that are trying to lead a fairly decent life, because it hinders the service and protection that our Police could be giving us without this distrust.

Ain't this 3,000 word limit a bit annoying to a man that has been sick all week, and is just recovering and has nothing better to do for the rest of the week other than sit here and post on a forum? LOL.


(Report Comment)
Ricky Gurley March 20, 2009 | 12:12 a.m.

Anyway, part two (2)!

My point here is this, we seem to take very insignificant incidents and amplify them when they involve the Police. And I don't quite understand why? Now, I have seen some "potentials for disaster" when I was doing Bail Enforcement work, and Columbia does not have the problems people seem to believe it does.

Short example. In 1996 I was in Florida to pick up a Bond Jumper. And I met this Deputy Sheriff, really nice fellow, also a very big guy. And all he had on his belt was a firearm and a pair of handcuffs. I SWEAR this is true! And I asked him, "do you carry Pepper Spray"? And his answer was this: "Our Sheriff believes that if you can't handle an arrest with your hands or your firearm, you don't need to be a deputy sheriff"! Again, I swear this to be true, I'll remember this until the day I die! Now THAT is a recipe for disaster!

And here we have our Police Department trying everything they can to try to insure that a firearm does NOT have to be used in an arrest! I am actually pretty impressed with our Police Department.

The upside for me is this though. I believe that there are far more people that actually support our Police Department, than the people that are constantly complaining about our Police Department. And I also believe that there is an interesting correlation between the people that support our Police Department and the people that live pretty decent and honest lives.

I suppose one of the things that frustrates me about Chuck is that he attempts to use what I do for a living against me on issues like these. But the fact of the matter is, I can't think of one single Law Enforcement Officer that I have encountered on a case that I worked that has not treated me with respect and dignity, and has gone out of their way to be polite to me! And I have never personally encountered a Police Officer since I have been a P.I. that I couldn't help but respect as a professional in their line of work! There are some great misconceptions about what I do for a living, and with Chuck I am sure that may be somewhat intentional. LOL.

And that completes a recovering sick man's rant for today!


(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr March 20, 2009 | 4:17 a.m.

>>> Toxic acidosis <<< Thanks Tom that was the wording I could not quite remember about this issue and thank you for helping to clear up this issue with Rick.

Sometimes we all have to excuse Rick when he goes into "Manic Mode". He has an underlying "I am God syndrome we all must deal with. We all know "this too shall pass",it usually lasts about one week out of the

Could not resist there Rick as after reading and studying your posting patterns it stands out quite plainly.

It would be nice to see more local doctors chime in on these subjects we talk about here quite often. I do agree with that Tom.

(Report Comment)
Ricky Gurley March 20, 2009 | 5:58 a.m.

But I am God, Chuck.. And you should not be speaking out against me.. Many times in the past I have smite thee down for such transgressions.. Have you not learned, Chuck?

Ohhh ye of little faith....

Now Chuck, repeat after me, and you shall be forgiven: "Please oh powerful one, forgive me for speaking out against you, and allow me to witness your power from beneath my miserable little rock from whence the other lizards, snails, and snakes that I have crawled". Say it seven times as fast as you can while rolling around on the floor, and I may let you grow an extra 6 inches so you don't continue to look like a baseball with legs.....

Hopefully God will forgive me for making a "funny" in regards to Chuck.....


(Report Comment)
Tom Dresner March 20, 2009 | 7:02 a.m.

Thanks Rick. Let's just keep the run theoretical, and our brains won't have to make that call. Deal?

You asked about IACP and PERF and handcuffed prisoners.

You forget about how some limber prisoners can bring their arms under their legs and get them back in front? They're still handcuffed, but now potentially quite dangerous, with quite the choking mechanism between their hands. That's why we handcuff people behind their backs.

Also, say the person is in the back seat and starts flinging his head into the cage, as hard as he can, while handcuffed. That translate into hurting himself or others?

That's not theoretical. It happens.

Of course, if that's happening, we should be thinking excited delirium, and getting them to the hospital post haste.

That's why that's in our policy--the term and the recommended medical intervention.

As to the videos, there are not many that we have that you don't also have on the internet.

Mr. Love, at some point if I get a chance, I hope to respond to your post as well. This thread is really long, and it's easy to lose a lot in it.

Linda, I'd be glad to refer to your coalition as you've asked. As I have read the bill that has the moratorium, adopting PERF wouldn't cut it. The bill provides the language. It mandates that it has to be a lethal force situation for TASER to be good to go. That's untenable.

Sorry you guys won't attend the seminar, though. I realize your mind is is pretty much made up, but I can keep trying...

Enjoy the day!


(Report Comment)
Donald Love March 20, 2009 | 9:10 a.m.

Tom Dresner 3/19 2009 10:13 p.m.
"A lot of these people are being TASERED. And then the TASER is blamed for killing them."
They died because of the Taser. The Hallsville chief suffered his injuries because of the Taser. The fact that the immediate cause is heart failure or a fall doesn't mean that the Taser didn't cause the death or injury. This is another aspect of the problem that some proponents of Tasers don't take their lethal potential seriously enough.

Ricky Gurley 3/19 2009 10:45 a.m.
"Mr. Love, you seem to have a great distrust towards Police."

I think the police (and government generally) need to be watched very carefully. I think Columbia police and Columbia government is generally good.
My senario about the traffic stop was a fictionalized version of what happened in Moberly; I definitely distrust Moberly police. My trust of the Columbia police is weakened by the overpass incident, by the two incidents Chief Dresner identified as Taser misuse, and by what I've seen of Columbia policies and procedures through the released documents.
My trust is restored somewhat by Chief Dresner's recent actions, but they were slow in coming and haven't gone far enough.

Mark Foecking March 19, 2009 | 9:25 a.m.
"Every weapon (or combat technique) a police officer might use has to potential to kill. Over 100 people have died after being pepper sprayed, for example. The TASER is no different - it's a two edged sword like anything else."
Again, officers need to be taught that Tasers are dangerous swords -- much more dangerous, by the numbers, than pepper spray. Thinking of them as an alternative to batons sets officers up for consequences they shouldn't have to face.

Tom Dresner March 18, 2009 | 1:12 p.m.
"...can I then correctly assume that you won't be supporting the state bill that includes the moratorium on TASER use...?"
I'm speaking for myself in this post. Tasers have been sold to the police as a handy, everyday addition to the toolbox, even though the manufacturer knows how deadly they are. When police realize how dangerous they are and use them just under appropriate conditions -- just as an alternative to more lethal force, like a gun -- the Tasers are probably ok. But then, I suspect, the police eventually realize how limited their use is and become much less interested in them.
My impression is that the Columbia police has a reasonably good record on avoiding excess force and will eventually come up with the right combination of policies, training and oversight. If Columbia is too slow, I would support a moratorium on Tasers in Columbia until adequate controls are in place.
State-wide, another dynamic exists. How many police departments, sheriff's offices, etc. are as responsible as CPD? I think a state-wide moratorium is a good idea, or if not a moratorium then at least a study as proposed by Steve Webber's bill.


(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr March 20, 2009 | 10:09 a.m.

Well I see Rick is still in "manic mode" today.

(Report Comment)
Ricky Gurley March 20, 2009 | 12:51 p.m.

Chuck, grown adults are talking, now "hush" and go back to guarding the Paquin Gardening Shed with a pitch fork, please....

Mr. Love, I understand a little better now, about what you are trying to say. And I am not saying that the Police can do no wrong. What I am saying is that I believe that our city is fortunate enough to have some positive dynamics working in it's favor in regards to our Police Department.

(1) Size v. Corruption: I have SEEN "corrupt cops", I know they exist. The existence of one allowed me to successfully sue an entire city in the early 90s. And I do not think that Columbia has any "corrupt cops". For one thing I think that it is easier for corruption to flourish in large Police Departments (New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta), because once you spread out the hierarchy too thinly, it is hard for the management to keep a certain "professional distance" from workers, that is often needed for management to be disciplinarians. I also think it is harder to spot corruption in large departments. I think our department is sized in such away that it is beneficial to the community. It is easier to give the community more transparency. And I think Chief Dresner used this to the benefit of the citizens greatly when he took charge of the CPD.

(2) Education: This IS a college town. And I do believe our Police Officers have a greater opportunity to continue their education and have more of an influence to do so. I think our department is a highly educated and enlightened department because of this.

(3) Citizenry: I think we live in a fairly liberal city. We certainly have a lot of liberal influences with the college students, and some of the attitudes that are inspired at such a young age in life. And I think that our Police Department knows that it has to stay on it's "Ps and Qs" because they have to try get along with these liberal influences. And I think the CPD makes an effort to do so.

So, I just think right here in Columbia, in this particular city, we have many positive dynamics that have produced a better Police Department than what most communities are able to enjoy.

That is just my personal opinion, though.


(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr March 20, 2009 | 3:39 p.m.

Ricky Gurley ah poor boy is your mania getting the best of you again.

(Report Comment)
Ricky Gurley March 20, 2009 | 4:12 p.m.

Chuck, I know it is comforting for you to believe that because you suffer from a mental disorder, that everyone else must too. But the hardest fact for you to face is, that not everyone has a mental disorder. I suppose you can try to comfort yourself with some "dime store diagnosis" of everyone that you have arguments with which all seem to conclude that the people you are arguing with suffer from some sort of mental disorder, but in a public forum it just makes you look even more pathetic than you already are.

Perhaps the upside for you Chuck, is that you do seem to be intelligent enough to at least have a cursory grasp of what some of your therapists and psychologists are practicing in regards to keeping you stable enough to be somewhat functional in society? I am just not so sure that you should be trying to practice these same techniques on the people you have disagreements with, Chuck. You're probably not qualified to do so...... LOL.

Perhaps you might find even more comfort in knowing that just because you do suffer from a mental disorder, does not mean that you are not intelligent enough to debate with everyone else on this forum; even if they might not suffer from a mental disorder.

Ultimately the solution to keeping you from looking like a person with a mental disorder (or at least giving the appearance of one), might be to try to keep from diagnosing everyone else as people with mental disorders, so that you can feel "adequate"; or in other words so that you can keep from feeling "inferior". It only "backfires" on you, when you do this, Chuck.. So, keep on topic, leave the diagnosis to your therapists, and you'll fit in fine here, Chuck...

Now, run a long and defend the Paquin Gardening Shed, "by any means necessary"; isn't that the phrase you used? Beautiful day for it, Chuck. LOL


(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr March 20, 2009 | 4:35 p.m.

Rick stop bending over your nose is brown enough already.

Wasn't it nice of Tom to explain to you how "Excited Delirium" is viewed by the department?

I knew you would like that. Nice back peddling too on your part after your bought of "manic posting" against what I presented.

(Report Comment)
Tom Dresner March 20, 2009 | 5:28 p.m.

Donald Love said that Tom Dresner said: "A lot of these people are being TASERED. And then the TASER is blamed for killing them."

Donald Love said:

They died because of the Taser. The Hallsville chief suffered his injuries because of the Taser. The fact that the immediate cause is heart failure or a fall doesn't mean that the Taser didn't cause the death or injury. This is another aspect of the problem that some proponents of Tasers don't take their lethal potential seriously enough.

Hi Mr. Love. I appreciate the chance to discuss this with you.

The above paragraph puts us a bit into the realm of nuance, though you may disagree. I can only say that we take the entire issue very seriously. I worry a little bit about what you said I "inferred" in a previous post. There's plenty to deal with before then though.

We have been looking for ways to get uncooperative people into handcuffs without injuring them or us since we moved beyond the days of the old West.

We're not quite there yet, but the TASER shows significant promise to that end.

Are they capable of being lethal? Yes. I agree with you. Can they be misused? You bet. Is there risk in life? Absolutely.

TASERS are properly called "less lethal" weapons. They are properly classified as such, but notice they're not called "non-lethal" because they have the capacity to kill. That's true of everything else we have that doesn't involve shooting someone with a firearm. Pepper spray is less lethal. It's killed on the order of a full one third of as many deaths as are attributed to the TASER. Same for batons and extended range impact projectiles like bean bags and ARWEN baton rounds.

Now, my point in my first sentence above is easy to miss, because you followed it up with examples of incidents that aren't the same as mine, as to causality.

I was illustrating deaths from toxic acidosis, from pH swing. It will be hard to convince anyone that these people can die without TASER, and do. But they have been for decades. Positional asphyxia is one of the ways, and it brings on toxic acidosis. But if they're also TASERed, it's going to take the rap, even if it wasn't the cause.

This point is meant to be completely separate from strict deaths from TASER use.

Bear with me, ok?

Yes, Chief Herring sustained injuries proximal to the TASER. It's my understanding that he wasn't being supported as is now trained, and at about 6'8" fell over upon deployment and suffered serious head injuries from the fall when he hit his head on furniture.

I hope you don't count me as among those who don't take the lethality risk seriously enough. If I didn't, then we wouldn't prohibit TASER use on fleeing misdemeanants.

I think I am running out of space so I will close here.

Thank you again for the chance to discuss this with you, Mr. Love.

(Report Comment)
Tom Dresner March 20, 2009 | 5:57 p.m.

Now, being the [temporary] CEO of a professional police agency makes me very interested in what we're doing and how we're doing it, from the perspective of what's reasonable, moral, community acceptable, etc. If it's not any of the above, my personal hide might be skinned.

That's motivating. So, when evaluating the TASER, we had to look at that risk and decide if the benefits outweighed the risks.

When we looked at the whole of modern law enforcement, the number of TASERs out there, and the deployments vs. the proximal fatalities, we decided it was a tool that was of greater benefit than risk. I realize that's going to ring quite hollow with the family of one who's died proximal to deployment. But again, more than 750,000 deployments on police officers in training, and to my knowlege, not one death. Yes, Chief Herring from Hallsville is often locally invoked, but his experience is the exception rather than the rule. In a big way.

The Bozeman study that I just released on March 2 is a huge independent medical conclusion as to the safety of the TASER. [Annals of Emergency Medicine] 1200 actual street deployments in three years and above 99.5 percent safety. There's been not one comment on that study here since then. By here, I mean the whole of Columbia. Not any media interest, not one question. Nothing. That surprised me.

But I think it's hugely significant.

Now, for a community to accept this new device, with all its risks, we have to do our part. And that's adequate policy, training and oversight.

That's where the debate lies right now.

We have a significant desire to do this right, and not as you asserted earlier, succumb to the temptation to use the TASER for compliance. If we didn't recognize the risks, as I said before, we wouldn't care if they were used for fleeing urination suspects. But we know that the community won't find this acceptable. And so we modified policy.

We need this device, the first that doesn't rely on pain compliance, like what you worried about earlier. For those on whom pain compliance is worthless, we have the TASER in the toolbox.

But for you to trust me on that, I/we have to go the extra mile to earn that trust.

And we've been admittedly behind the curve on that, as I have said publicly many times.

I think we're getting there, but we still have a long way to go.

(Report Comment)
Ricky Gurley March 20, 2009 | 6:27 p.m.

To Chuck, real quick and then I am going to TRY to stop responding to you, although with my "mania" that may be too much of a task for me... LOL.

First, Chief Dresner did not disagree with me so much that it made you right about anything. He did correct my assertion that adrenalin was the cause of the respiratory failures, and taught me that it was Toxic Acidosis. All of my other contentions on "Excited Delirium" are basically, pretty much correct. I even admitted that it exists, before Chief Dresner corrected me.

Here is the basic difference, Chuck. I am not "kissing anyone's butt", so to speak. But, I CHOOSE who I will listen to, and who I will be skeptical of listening to. Now, I CHOOSE to listen to Chief Dresner because it is a smart choice to, with his years of service to our community, his access to ACCURATE information on this topic, with his responsibility in trying to help resolve the Taser issue, and his credentials and experience as a Police Officer with the issues we are discussing; it only makes sense to listen to him.

You on the other hand, as a person "on the public dole", who admits that he has mental disorders, and has admitted to being addicted to narcotics, and has no credentials or experience whatsoever in arrest procedures, or defensive devices that are used to make an arrest with, are just a bit hard to not be skeptical of listening to. Now, while I realize that sounds "mean", it is not meant to be.

I am glad that you are trying to contribute these days, Chuck. But, we have had this experience and credential discussion before, and if you don't have any, then please stop acting like you do. Perhaps you could get some experience at apprehending "miscreants", by catching the vandals of the Paquin Gardening Shed?

I have never "coddled" you in our discussions, Chuck. I don't feel like that would be fair to you. While some people do avoid you or let you have the last word because they feel sorry for you, I am not the one that would treat you like that. I am trying to treat you as I would anyone else I'd get into this type of a discussion with. So, again stay on topic, leave the diagnosis to your therapists, and you'll fit in fine here... LOL.


(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr March 20, 2009 | 6:38 p.m.

Yawnz..................what did that post include that was not pure dribble from the chin of a brown noser?

(Report Comment)
Ricky Gurley March 21, 2009 | 12:58 a.m.

More on my attitude about the Taser issue.

I don't believe this issue is anything new, I think we had the same issue over CapStun "Tear Gas". I also think we had the same issue over the PR-24, when people that were resisting wound up with broken bones. Before CapStun, there was CS and CN, and some people had problems with those chemical sprays, and the line of thought was because they were chemically manufactured, they were causing problems, whereas CapStun was from a natural source (Cayenne Peppers), so the switch went to CapStun, and we still had issues. I personally know that CS is pretty harmless, as I remember unsealing an M17 Protective Mask and answering a few questions in a chamber that was full of the stuff, and then walking out in a coughing fit, eyes watering, and having had some of the best medicine in the world for clearing my sinuses, but after about 15 minutes I was just fine! I think many a people that were in the military probably had that same experience.

So, I don't think this issue is anything new. But, I do think when these issues start to effect the effectiveness of how our Police can protect us, someone has to use some common sense and try to understand that if the "bad guy" gets the occasional injury for resisting the Police because they can confidently do what needs to be done to gain control of the bad guy, well that beats the heck out of the alternative.

The fact is, nowadays the "thugs" in our society have gotten so far out of hand, that the average citizen is apprehensive about going out to the store at night. I smoke cigars, so I never smoke away from my home, but I always carry a lighter. Reason: the first thing I look for in a store is a section that will have some type of a flammable spray, and then the small section that will have bug spray (Pesticide) or oven cleaner, and then the small automobile section that will have sharp objects (screw drivers, tire patch kits, etc., etc.). That way if something happens inside the store that might be life threatening to me or the people around me, perhaps I can gain just enough of an edge to save myself or some innocent bystander that is there with me. And ya know what? That is a damned shame!

So, I want our Police Department to feel unhindered in doing whatever it takes to make a suspect comply, to make an arrest, and to show the "bad guys", that they are making a most unintelligent choice to try to resist arrest. Heck, to be quite honest, I want the Police to be able to demonstrate that they will not tolerate thugs perpetrating violence against their law abiding citizens!

I suppose that is where I am coming from here.


(Report Comment)
Tom Dresner March 23, 2009 | 9:10 a.m.

Good morning, all. Rick, the American College of Emergency Physicians recognizes Excited Delirium as a valid way of describing what we've been bantering about here. I knew a medical outfit had, just couldn't remember who.

Here are a couple of interesting links from their website:

A little light reading for your Monday.


(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr March 23, 2009 | 12:04 p.m.

Thanks Tom for this valuable info and I am sure you passed this on to your C.I.T. coordinator. I am quite sure she will like this for the upcoming training sessions.

(Report Comment)

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