The Coalition to Control Tasers has asked the City Council to ban Columbia Police Department officers' use of Tasers for 30 days.
There's no doubt there has been some problems with Taser use. Columbia police have admitted to the improper use of Tasers in two arrests — one involved police using a Taser on a 14-year-old boy suspected of shoplifting, and the other was when police used a Taser on a man who was resisting arrest for urinating in public.
Police revised their Taser use policy in March in response to the two arrests, prohibiting the weapon's use on people suspected of less serious crimes that don't involve physical violence or an immediate threat to the public or police.
Other incidents of Taser use that have come under public scrutiny have been deemed appropriate by Columbia police, but the Coalition to Control Tasers said several of the past 48 uses of Tasers from 2005-08 were inappropriate.
In July, during negotiations where Phillip Lee McDuffy threatened to kill himself, he was shot with Tasers four times before falling over the edge of an overpass and landing on the cement 15 feet below.
The police department determined the use of Tasers was appropriate in McDuffy's case, but McDuffy's lawyer issued a letter to the city asking for a settlement of $500,000.
According to Columbia Police, Tasers have been a useful alternative to pulling their lethal weapons. In March 2008, Capt. Steven Monticelli said the devices have helped decrease injuries to police and suspects.
The Coalition to Control Tasers originally said their intention was not to ban the use of Tasers.
"There is a lot of misconception on what our position is," Berg said in a March 8 Missourian report. "We are not in favor of banning (Tasers). They have a use if used properly by the police. We basically want to prevent harm or death to our citizens."
But the coalition has since changed its mind, calling for a suspension of Taser use for at least 30 days.
What solutions, if any, will come out of banning the use of Tasers for 30 days?