Skip to comments.Cops revise Taser policy. Shift follows shocking of man with alleged license plate violation...
Posted on 05/06/2010 6:58:48 PM PDT by The Magical Mischief Tour
Valley law enforcement agencies this week modified their Taser policies, saying the devices can no longer be used to force compliance by people who do not pose an immediate threat.
The change comes after an April 7 incident in which a Jackson police officer attempted to arrest a man and then used the Taser to stun him when he resisted. Jackson police had stopped Frank Meek because of an alleged license plate violation for which he had already been issued a citation.
A video of Meeks arrest showed officers ordering him out of his car. Meek got out briefly but sat back down when an officer attempted to handcuff him.
Police said refusing to get out of the car is active resistance. Under the old policy, the officers use of a Taser after several warnings was allowed.
Jackson Police Chief Todd Smith said Monday that use of a Taser in a case like Meeks will no longer be allowed because Meek was not being physcially aggressive toward officers.
Were really only using it as a defensive tool, rather than an offensive tool, Smith said.
Smith and Teton County Sheriff Jim Whalen said this week that any time police use force they have a responsibility to review their policy.
I dont think Meek is the catalyst behind [the change], but his case is the most recent use of force, Smith said.
Whalen said his office wasnt involved in the Meek case but situations like it present an opportunity to revisit policy.
Sometimes policy really doesnt come into focus as well as it should until we have these kinds of things happen, Whalen said. Whats important is that law enforcement agencies should be willing to take a second look at how were doing business.
Whalen said the fact that Smith wanted to review the policy is a good thing.
Smith said departments across the U.S. are making similar changes to their Taser policies. He said that Taser has always marketed its device as a low-level use of force that causes less damage than traditional police weapons such as batons and pepper spray.
The public seems to think differently, he said.
The public perception is that the Taser is a much greater use of force, Smith said. You have to meet community standards.
Smith and Whalen said it made sense to make the policy change now because their agencies are participating in a joint training session. The training was planned months ago and focuses on all types of issues, including pursuit and use of force policies, how to deal with the mentally ill. A review of laws was included, Smith said.
Under the new policy, officers will be permitted to use Taser to defend themselves, citizens or suspects. Such uses might include cases in which the suspect is taking a posturing stance toward the officer, refuses to stop assaulting someone or threatens to commit suicide.
Smith said officers always must consider possible consequences, such as a fall, before using a Taser.
Tasering someone on stairs has never been allowed, he said. Tasering someone holding a gun to his head also is not permitted because of the risk that he or she might reflexively pull the trigger.
Tasers also may be used to stop a fleeing suspect if the suspect would be a threat to the community if he or she escaped. Smith and Whalen pointed to situations where police encounter rape, robbery or burglary suspects.
Its all about the nature of the crime, Smith said.
For me, its going to come down to the gravity of the offense, he said.
County prosecutor Steve Weichman dropped the charges against Meek that stemmed from the April 7 incident. He said he requested the state attorney general to order the state Division of Criminal Investigation to conduct an investigation of the incident. A DCI spokesman said Tuesday the agency had not received a request to investigate.
A review of Meeks arrest is being conducted by the Wyoming Department of Criminal Investigation.
Meek, who said he works in Jackson and lives part time with his girlfriend in Driggs, Idaho, has up-to-date Colorado plates on his 1969 Volkswagen. Authorities have said Meek needs to have Wyoming or Idaho license plates on his car because he works in Jackson and obviously isnt commuting daily from Colorado.
A bench trial on that original, March citation is set for June 25.
Nomen est omen.
I dunno what's more disturbing, the fact that our cops are tazing anyone who will stand still long enough for them or the fact that we are now arresting people for administrative non-safety, non-threatening, violations of what can be loosely described as law in this country.
One that this guy was already cited for.
Yeah, the criminal injustice system in this country and our cops are completely out of control and continue to demonstrate they have no ability to exercise anything resembling discretion.
The whole problem is he was a citizen. If he were illegal they wouldn’t dare do anything except in AZ.
Easier to tas then do the job you were trained to do. I guess this helps keep the uniform clean. As a retired police officer, this is just beyond belief.
There was another one a short time ago, he tazed a pregnant woman 7 times in order to get her to sign the ticket. She was 7-8 months pregnant.
Disgusting. In my day, if I had been the officer that did this, my fellow officers would have beat the crap out of me ... and I would have deserved it.
"It was a slit-second (sic) decision for Arlington police who arrived at the Wildwood Park Apartments late last week. After responding to a "psychiatric emergency" call from concerned family members at the Columbia Pike high-rise in south Arlington, officers found 32-year-old Adil Jouamai naked and uncooperative, refusing to respond to orders and combative. So they shocked him with a Taser gun. He was later taken to the Virginia Hospital Center, where he was pronounced dead." . . .
"But critics say resistance is not enough of a reason to deploy electroshock weapons on unarmed civilians. This incident was the second time this year that a suspect has died after being Tased by Arlington County Police officers. For those who oppose the use of Taser guns by law-enforcement officials, its yet another indication that their use is questionable at best." . . .
"What we are beginning to see is that theres an unpredictability to the use Tasers that we didnt know about before," said Kent Willis, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia. "Theres increasing evidence that even when they are used properly, they can kill people. So now we are beginning to wonder whether they should be used at all." . . .
My father (ret. detroit mounted division) told me years ago if officers do crappy arrests its the commanders fault...The commander lets them get away with it...None of the men under him made those kinds of arrests...its like a stiff warning to some is not even considered...noted that some deserve more than that..
“There was another one a short time ago, he tazed a pregnant woman 7 times in order to get her to sign the ticket. She was 7-8 months pregnant.”
Oh my heavens, this is beyond belief! The police seem out of control when it comes to tasering.
Looks like they tasored him while he was in the car. Not a good idea. Should never be done. They did that to my sister's grandson. He then proceded to drive off at a high rate of speed and destroyed his vehicle and himself.