Public Comment

Springtime for Tasers in Berkeley

By Carol Denney
Friday April 18, 2014 - 10:12:00 AM

“Suhr says the constraints, to name a few, included everything from young people, old people, people in crisis, the mentally ill, wet people, and people near roadways. Officers pausing to consider all this might put them and the public more at risk.

'We're still months away from the final product,' Suhr said. 'And we're already to the point where it creates too much calculus on the part of the officer, too much to ask.' "

—“SF police chief withdraws request to use Tasers”, by Heather Ishimaru and Amy Hollyfield, April 11, 2013

If there were a way for tasers to know which people had heart conditions, suffered mental disabilities or drug reactions such that they could not comply with verbal orders, were old, were young, were disabled, were wet, were in crisis, were near roadways, etc., then the Berkeley Police Association would at least have a worthwhile argument to make for their use.

But they don’t. Tasers tend to be over-used, used in inappropriate situations, and are lethal for a subset of any given population. Police officers should not be using potentially lethal weapons except in situations which allow lethal force. 

Police Associations will always rally for the next high-tech gadget to keep up with the police department down the road. But San Francisco’s refusal to cave in to police department pressure came not just from the ACLU. It also came from a group of African American police officers who stated flatly that tasers would be used primarily on minorities: “The group Officers for Justice, which represents African-American police officers, was against the Taser proposal -- saying the weapons would be used mostly on minorities and drug addicts.” 

Please resist the “pilot project” approach which was floated in San Francisco to give people the impression that there is any acceptable “practice” setting for using potentially lethal shock on human beings.