Panel at Hickman discusses safety, effectiveness of Tasers

Wednesday, November 11, 2009 | 9:43 p.m. CST; updated 12:51 p.m. CST, Thursday, November 12, 2009

COLUMBIA — A “Speak Your Mind” event Wednesday night at Hickman High School featured a five-member panel that discussed the safety and effectiveness of Tasers.

About 100 students attended the event.

The issues

The main topics of discussion were the safety of Tasers and the proper training and oversight for police officers.

The panelists

  • Ed Berg, Coalition to Control Tasers
  • Mary Ratliff, Columbia NAACP
  • Tom Dresner, deputy police chief, Columbia Police Department
  • Wayne McDaniel, MU professor
  • Michael Lyman, Columbia College professor

The positions

Berg: “Tasers are not the ‘wonder weapon’ they were made out to be.”

Ratliff: “There’s no sense in a situation (between police and residents) getting blown out of proportion. There can be win-win situations.”

Dresner: “If Taser was proven to kill people … it would be shut down.”

McDaniel: “More research is needed to understand the mechanisms of death associated with Taser stimulation.”

Lyman: “It is a legitimate law enforcement tool provided it is used under the proper circumstances.”

The background

A coalition of six community organizations calling itself the “TASER-Free Columbia Campaign" announced on Oct. 30 a proposed November 2010 ballot initiative that would ban all use of Tasers inside city limits.

Several members of the group had previously called on the Police Department to adopt a set of national Taser guidelines, which the department did in the spring.

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