The Register-Guard ran a story today about the use of newly introduced tasers in Lane County Jail, and the news (surprisingly) wasn’t all that bad. According to the RG, officers have drawn their tasers 96 times since they were introduced in June 2006 and only used them 19 times. This is probably thanks to the strict regulations governing taser use in the jail, as well as a training program that requires officers to be tased.
However, all is not well. The RG also reports that the Eugene Police Department will soon be arming some of its officers with tasers. While the devices’ use in a highly structured environment like a jail works well, their track record on the street is notorious. Arm a few hothead police officers with non-lethal weapons, send them out with minimal oversight and anything can happen.
But here’s the most curious part of the article:
Former jail Capt. Kevin Williams was instrumental in arming corrections deputies with the Tasers.
Williams, now director of campus security at the University of Oregon, spent 20 years with the Los Angeles Police Department, which arms its jail guards with Tasers. He suggested that Lane County Sheriff Russ Burger do the same.
I sure hope Williams isn’t planning on arming our resident Keystone Cops over at DPS with tasers. How long would it take before “Don’t taser me, bro: Oregon edition” took place? The proliferation of non-lethal weapons bothers me in general, much more so when handled by an inept body like DPS. With non-lethal weapons, it’s not a question of if somebody will get unjustly popped by a taser or beanbag round, but when.
On a lighter note, check out this passage from the article:
The person being “tased” loses muscle control and experiences excruciating pain that does not linger once the pulse ends.
“It’s kind of like getting a bad spanking,” Lane County sheriff’s deputy Steve Marshall said.
He should know. He and other jail deputies were shot with the device during a required training session.
The probes, which look like straightened fishhooks, pierced the skin on his back and delivered a five-second pulse of electricity that incapacitated him.
“It was the worst five seconds of my life,” Marshall said. “It felt like 30 minutes. It locked me up totally, and I felt like I couldn’t breathe.”
A “bad spanking”? Jesus, what did Marshall’s parents do to him?