Taser issue voted down

Months of controversy comes to an end in lopsided vote
Wednesday, November 3, 2010 | 12:05 a.m. CDT; updated 12:15 p.m. CDT, Friday, November 5, 2010
Had it passed, Proposition 2 would have made the use of Tasers in Columbia a Class A misdemeanor and banned everyone, including law enforcement officers, from using, or threatening to use, Tasers within the city limits. The proposition was rejected 24,679 to 7,327.

This story has been modified to include an e-mail statement from Sgt. John Gordon of the Columbia Police Officer Association that the Missourian received at 12:49 a.m. Wednesday.

COLUMBIA — WHAT HAPPENED:  Proposition 2, which would have prohibited the use of Tasers by law enforcement and residents, was overwhelmingly defeated at the polls.  The final vote count was 7,327 yes to 24,679 no.

REACTION: Columbia attorney Robert Murray of People for a Taser-Free Columbia said opponents of the ban were able to get their message out effectively.

"They did a good job of framing the issue: Support law enforcement. And that took away from the real issue, which is Taser use. I think we need to develop standards, controls and accountability as to when Tasers are used."

The group said it would issue a statement Wednesday morning.

Sgt. John Gordon of the Columbia Police Officer Association issued an e-mail statement early this morning. "The Columbia Police Officer Association (CPOA) is very pleased with the outcome of the election," it said. "We would like to thank the voters for allowing us to keep this important weapon as a option. We remain committed to serving our community."

WHAT'S NEXT: Murray said he doesn't know if People for a Taser-Free Columbia will try another ballot initiative. He said it's possible the group will appeal to the Columbia City Council to impose tighter restrictions in the future.



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Bill Fisher November 3, 2010 | 5:19 a.m.

Cool, I can defend myself inside my own home with a non-lethal device!

I wonder how soon 'til all the "Yes on Prop B" signs come down in the high-crime neighborhoods, since that's about the only place you see them.

(Report Comment)
Tom Dresner November 3, 2010 | 7:58 a.m.

"Representatives of the Columbia Police Department and the Columbia Police Officers Association did not respond to requests for comment."

This is untrue.

Dan wrote me to possibly get a comment later after the results were solidifying and offered calling or email for comment. I told him I preferred email. In a 7:48 pm reply to that preference, he said he "may email me before all the results are in if it looks mathematically solid."

I never got another email, and after 11, I went to bed. I can't speak for anyone else he may have contacted.

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking November 3, 2010 | 8:11 a.m.

Bill Fisher wrote:

"I wonder how soon 'til all the "Yes on Prop B" signs come down in the high-crime neighborhoods, since that's about the only place you see them."

You mean proposition 2, right? Yes, there are a lot of "taser-free" signs around where I live - probably lots of that wasn't against tasers specifically but just something they could do to lord it over the police. It's a shame that there is still so much antagonism towards police around here.


(Report Comment)
Nathan Stephens November 3, 2010 | 9:29 a.m.

I believe that everyone supports law enforcement doing their jobs in the appropriate way. (If they don't then it is those people that have the problem.) I feel that the issue that People for a Taser Free Columbia should have addressed is the inappropriate use of tasers. Everyone admits that a taser is a weapon, and so there are laws already on the books for the "unlawful use of a weapon." These people should have focused on punitive consequences for law enforcement or anyone else that inappropriately use tasers. The brass at the CPD, Highway Patrol and Boone County Sheriffs department could then state that they not only provide adequate training for the use of the tasers as some have already stated, but they could also speak on the possible punishment for inappropriate use such as the tazing of a "compliant suspect already on the ground in a submissive posture/position."
To reiterate, I believe that law enforcement should have every tool available that would enable them to do their jobs in a manner that allows them to return home to their families at night and keep the citizens of our city safe. I also believe that citizens of our city have a right to be protected from the inappropriate use of any tool or weapon that law enforcement has at their disposal; and that the onus in on law enforcement administration, the city council and city leaders to ensure the appropriate use of these tools. Lastly, the latter must send an undeniable message to ALL (officers and citizens) that misuse of these tools will be dealt with swiftly and harshly.

(Report Comment)
Jill Wieneke November 3, 2010 | 9:47 a.m.

I was also not contacted by anyone from the Missourian last night, or this morning, for a comment.

Jill Wieneke
Public Information Officer, Columbia Police Department

(Report Comment)
Dan Claxton November 3, 2010 | 12:32 p.m.

It’s true that the Missourian did not try to contact Officer Wieneke for this story, but I did seek comment from Deputy Chief Dresner and from Sgt. John Gordon of the Columbia Police Officer Association. We have added to this article this morning an e-mail response from Sgt. Gordon that I received at 12:49 a.m., after this story was published. In reviewing my e-mail records from last night, it appears that a second e-mail I attempted to send to Deputy Chief Dresner at 8:52 p.m., specifically asking for his statement on the outcome of the proposition, came back to my e-mail address rather than being sent to him. We have also removed from the story the sentence saying that the Police Deaprtment did not respond to requests for comment. -- Dan Claxton

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith November 11, 2010 | 6:04 p.m.

The day before the election I was called out to fight a three alarm manufacturing quality "fire." Thanks, Columbians for voting solidly on my behalf.

The "fire" is not yet entirely out, but the red ink has at leased ceased to bleed so profusely.

(We still manufacture a few items in this country.)

(Report Comment)

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