Hello Bloggers - I need to take a position on tasers after reading about another death this weekend in Virginia. Poor 17-year-old Derrick Jones of Martinsville was pronounced dead in his own home following an encounter with police that ended in a taser blast.
Neighbors called the police due to noise. Jones, who had been drinking AT HOME with friends, "moved rapidly" towards the officer while making unspecified unkind comments. Police officers know that tasers have killed people in the past, especially those who may be high on drugs, so a taser should have been used as a LAST RESORT!
It is clear to me that police officers, who I hold in great esteem, are not using their tasers properly. They're inadvertently killing innocent people, and something must be done. He wasn't armed, so why taser him? Why couldn't the officers have just called in back-up, and wrestled him to the ground the old-fashioned way? Isn't that why we hire strong officers?
This is an example of how some police departments are taking tasers too lightly, and how they use them too casually. Despite what some police say, tasers can be deadly weapons, and they should be taken very seriously.
A CBS report shows that tasers have KILLED "at least 400 people in the United States and Canada since 2001." Those figures leave out those who merely suffered heart attacks yet survived after being tasered. I don't know about you, but if the police know that tasers can kill, or cause heart attacks, and they do, than it's clear that tasers should be restricted to the same rules as firearms. It only seems reasonable to me.
I've even read that when testing tasers on rookies, to demonstrate their use, police departments make a big deal to use volunteers with a medical clearance, because they know a heart attack is possible. That alone is very disturbing to me. It shows they are aware.
I'm pretty angry because, despite my admiration for law enforcement, I think some police departments are out of control, seeming almost militaristic in the way they enforce laws on unarmed citizens. It could be the thin end of the wedge, and could get worse. We as citizens need to get more vocal about it, unless you want to risk being tasered in the future, or even killed.
Just like that college student in Florida who tried to scream questions to McCain, and who begged not to get tasered by campus police, people are getting tasered way too easily. It is a growing problem that needs to be addressed by journalists and community groups. It is a good cause, and people have to speak up more. I know I will try.
My own father died in 1969 after police chased a criminal causing him to slam into my father going around 90 mph on city streets. Police chases kill thousands each year, and very little is written about their victims.
I cope with the idea that my father died because police thought it was important to catch that criminal. In a way he was armed, at least with a speeding vehicle. I could see tasering that young man if he was carrying a taser, or driving a car perhaps, but not for simply running and yelling abusive language in his own home.
Citizens tolerate police carrying firearms for good reason, but we do not have to tolerate police tasering unarmed citizens. They should NOT BE ALLOWED TO SHOOT PEOPLE with tasers without a very good reason, such as a SERIOUS threat. Either police departments begin to take great steps to limit their use, or citizens should do it for them by writing laws. Something must be done. Derrick Jones should not die in vain.
Monday's Political Rant #2 - Michael
PS - The Chicago Post-Tribune reprinted this article for us. Thanks Post-Tribune!