Today's Question: What do you think of activists' proposal to ban Tasers in Columbia?

Monday, November 2, 2009 | 10:46 a.m. CST

COLUMBIA — A coalition of six community organizations calling itself the “TASER-Free Columbia Campaign" announced on Friday a proposed November 2010 ballot initiative that would ban all use of Tasers inside city limits.

Catherine Parke, who helped start the campaign, said that Tasers “continue to be used in ambiguous, uncertain and seemingly mistaken ways that appear not to conform consistently to 'imminent danger' standards."

The announcement drew a strong response from the Columbia Police Department, which over the past year has worked with community groups seeking more training and oversight for Taser use. In the spring, the department adopted a set of national Taser guidelines supported by the Coalition to Control Tasers, another collection of community groups.

Deputy Chief Tom Dresner said he had been assured by activists that if the department adhered to proper Taser guidelines, their concerns would be satisfied. “Their repeated mantra of the need for adequate training, policy and oversight, apparently meant nothing,” Dresner said. “We have been responsive to those requests. So, now we see that was essentially a smokescreen for their real agenda."

This is not the first time the Police Department’s use of Tasers has been in the spotlight. Several events, including the July 2008 incident on an Interstate 70 overpass and this summer’s Café Berlin incident, have focused attention on the device’s safety and on police officers’ decisions to use the Taser.

The Police Department has repeatedly defended its use of the Taser, saying the device makes interactions between officers and suspects safer for both groups.

What do you think of activists’ proposal to ban Tasers in Columbia?

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Patrick Sweet November 2, 2009 | 11:49 a.m.

I'm pretty sure that most folk would rather be shot with a taser than a gun if they found themselves in an unfortunate spot.

I don't think banning a non-lethal alternative is a good idea. We should trust our officers, at least a little.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz November 2, 2009 | 11:57 a.m.

Patrick, you get what some of the folks in this coalition don't get. TASERs were not intended for "imminent danger" situations, that's what the officers' sidearms are for.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro November 2, 2009 | 10:39 p.m.

Until something better comes along, tasers unfortunately need to be around.
If you can't work with and support the efforts of your local police force, what's left?

(Report Comment)
Gregg Bush November 3, 2009 | 8:38 a.m.

I applaud the coalitions efforts - we need more discussion of these efficacy of these deadly weapons. The Thomas A Smith Electric Rifle is a powerful tool. All powerful tools must be closely monitored. If our police department would treat the Electric Rifles as a deadly weapon, they may keep the powerful tools. If law enforcement refuses to treat the Electric Rifles as a deadly weapon, they may not keep them. If the coalition gets enough signatures, why shouldn't we get a chance to vote on the issue? And if the officers live in Columbia, then they may vote. If they don't live in the city limits - their opinion is meaningless. They may simply get another job.

(Report Comment)
Allan Sharrock November 3, 2009 | 9:10 a.m.

"their opinion is meaningless" So because they do not live in town they shouldn't have a say about anything? I mean it is their life on the line.I would hate to lose a good officer to another city because he didn't want to limited on his safety options. I have a idea why don't you anti-taser people patrol the streets? Let me know how that works out and be sure to write me in your will. I don't know what part of less lethal you guys don't understand. If you think the voters are going to vote out tasers you have lost your mind. Columbia may lean left but the residents are informed enough to know that tasers are safer than bullets every time. I bet you don't even collect enough signatures to get it on the ballet.

(Report Comment)
wise won November 3, 2009 | 1:58 p.m.

The personal injury trial lawyers, the DRUG DEATH victims’ families, want a payday. The liberals want control to be accompanied by blood and guts (with video and photos). Together these groups believe that with enough lies and misleading information they can sway the public. The public is smarter than they believe; the grown-ups will carry the day. TASER SAVES LIVES EVERY DAY. But almost as important, Tasers save big bucks for taxpayers with fewer injured officers, lower insurance rates, fewer lawsuits and many other ways

(Report Comment)
Dave Dowell January 4, 2010 | 7:04 p.m.

I am all for the Police keeping the Tazers, it is a good piece of kit, and very useful. My one caveat is that they should only be used used as a less lethal means of force in a dangerouse situation, and NOT as a compliance device on unarmed individuals.

(Report Comment)
Ricky Gurley January 4, 2010 | 9:04 p.m.

I am FOR the Police having Tasers. I am also for the Police using the Tasers responsibly.

I am not "flip flopping" here, but the Police may well be their own worst enemy in their fight to keep the Taser in their toll box. Don't misinterpret this as me saying that the CPD is not responsibly using the Taser, because I am not saying that. But there are many high profile cases in which other Police Departments throughout the nation have abused the Taser. The future of the Taser being used in Police work is starting to look pretty bleak. below is an indicator of what the future of the Taser in Police work is starting to look like:

U. S. Court Of Appeals, Ninth Circuit concludes that Law Enforcement Officer is not entitled to immunity under color of authority in Taser Deployment.


Plaintiff-Appellee, No. 08-55622
v. D.C. No.
CORONADO, a municipal OPINION corporation,
Defendants-Appellants. þ

Appeal from the United States District Court
for the Southern District of California
Larry A. Burns, District Judge, Presiding
Argued and Submitted
October 9, 2009—Pasadena, California
Filed December 28, 2009
Before: Harry Pregerson, Stephen Reinhardt and
Kim McLane Wardlaw, Circuit Judges.
Opinion by Judge Wardlaw


(Report Comment)

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