Editorial for 28 January: A new tool to fight crime

What’s a police officer in the Cayman
Islands to do if he or she finds himself in a confrontation with a suspect
armed with a knife or gun and finds he can’t defuse the situation by
negotiation?

As of today that officer can use a Taser to
get his point across and subdue the assailant.

Lethal force is obviously a tool of last
resort and before they pull a firearm, police officers can use their batons and
pepper spray to subdue uncooperative or agitated suspects.

But until today, police here had no other
option but pulling a firearm.

After much training, a select group of
police officers are now armed with a conducted energy weapon or Taser. These
devices deliver an intense electrical charge up to 10 metres that temporarily
disables suspects, allowing police to safely take them into custody.

The weapon, which is considered by American
police forces and Taser International to be “less-than-lethal” in terms of the
force it can administer, fires two wires charged with 50,000 volt shocks at
targets – incapacitating them for a brief period.

Police forces in the United States and
Britain use Taser weapons typically in close-range encounters with criminal
suspects where the use of a firearm would be considered excessive. They are
also often used to subdue violent or mentally-ill individuals who might do harm
to themselves or others.

As veteran firearms instructor Ian
Brellisford said, “Taser is designed to give instant incapacitation, and
afterward, instant relief”.

Tasers aren’t without their critics.

People have died after receiving jolts from
Tasers, but supporters of the less-than-lethal tool say those cases occurred
because of existing health issues with the suspect.

And more than a few jurisdictions have
found themselves at the centre of lawsuits from families of people who have
died after being “tased”.

Not all police officers will be armed with
Tasers. Those who are will have their use of the weapons recorded each time
they are fired. If properly used, it appears Tasers can be an effective
policing tool.

 

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1 COMMENT

  1. Why not give any first responders to calls Tasers? Why only a select group of officers? If nothing else it would protect the Police who often walk blindly into a call with little information given to them as to how many people and the real reason for the call they received.

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