Birdsong wishes to make his students aware that Tasers are the new fad in Law enforcement. (Tasers are also called stun guns) They are certainly used by POLICE in Orlando. Just read the paper or watch the evening news. Instead of shooting or wounding a victim with bullets the Taser delivers a 50,000 volt electric shock to a law breaker that overrides one’s central nervous system. This causes uncontrollable contractions of the muscle tissue and instant collapse. This is known as nonlethal force.
Yet, how many of you know from where the name Taser derives? Well, the inventor of the Taser took the name from a 1911 boy’s adventure story by author Victor Appleton. Appleton wrote a science fiction story about a young crime fighter who foiled criminals by incapacitating them with an electric rifle he had invented. The name of that young crime fighter in the story was Thomas A. Swift. The name of the story was entitled: Thomas A. Swift and his Electric Rifle. The modern day inventor of the first true electric stun gun named his invention after the initials of the story — T A S E R!
A few years ago Birdsong was invited by the Orlando Chapter of Amnesty International to perform some research and deliver an address to the group concerning the pros and cons of Taser use. During the same time period Birdsong served on Florida State Senator Gary Siplin’s Commission on the Use of Deadly Force by Law Enforcement in Florida and had the opportunity to witness live demonstrations of Taser use by members of the Orlando Police Department.
Readers might be interested in reading the talking points derived from my research for that speech.
A TALK ON TASERS
I. INTRODUCTION / THANKS FOR INVITE
—- STATE SENATOR SIPLIN COMMISSION ON DEADLY FORCE
II. WHAT ARE TASERS / HISTORY AND EXPLANATION
— TASER INTERNATIONAL – AZ COMPANY
— 1911 VICTOR APPLETON STORY – TASWIFT ELECTRIC RIFLE
— 1994 AIR TASER
— 1998 M26
— 2003 X26
– HIGH POWERED TASERS ARE THE NEW FAD IN LAW ENFORCEMENT.
POLICE SAY THEY LOWER INJURY TO POLICE AND PUBLIC.
IT IS TOOL TO BE USED WITH OTHER NONLETHAL TYPES OF FORCE
— DRS, REPORTERS AND HUMAN RIGHTS GROUPS RAISE SAFETY Q
III. WHAT HAPPENS TO THE TASERED BODY
— 50,000 VOLT SHOCK USED TO OVERRIDE THE TARGET’S CENTRAL NERVOUS SYSTEM, CAUSING UNCONTROLLABLE CONTRACTION OF THE MUSCLE TISSUE AND INSTANT COLLAPSE
— COMPANY SAYS SUCH A JOLT WILL PHYSICALLY DEBILITATE A TARGET REGARDLESS OF PAIN TOLERANCE OR MENTAL FOCUS
— THE TASER DIRECTLY TELLS THE MUSCLES WHAT TO DO: CONTRACT UNTIL TARGET IS IN THE FETAL POSITION ON THE GROUND
— COMPANY SAYS NO RESIDUAL EFFECTS
IV. AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL CLAIMS
— SINCE 2001, AT LEAST 70 PEOPLE ARE REPORTED TO HAVE DIED IN US AND CANADA AFTER BEING STRUCK BY M26 OR X26
— 12 OF THE DEATHS IN FLORIDA
— 4 SUCH DEATHS IN ORANGE COUNTY
— CORONERS TEND TO ATTRIBUTE SUCH DEATHS TO OTHER FACTORS SUCH AS DRUG INTOXICATION
— SOME MEDICAL EXPERTS QUESTION WHETHER TASER SHOCKS MAY EXACERBATE A RISK OF HEART FAILURE
— SCIENTISTS SAY ELECTRICITY NEAR THE HEART CAN BE DANGEROUS – MAY CAUSE VENTRICULAR FIBRILLATION
— OTHER SCIENTISTS SUGGEST OR SPECULATE THAT AN EXCESS OF POTASSIUM, PRODUCED WHEN THE MUSCLES CONTRACT VIOLENTLY, MAY BE A KEY INGREDIENT IN THE DEATHS ASSOCIATE W/THE DEVICE
V. DEPLOYMENT OF TASERS IN THE USA
— MORE THAN 6,000 LAW ENFORCEMENT AND CORRECTIONAL AGENCIES IN 49 STATES ARE DEPLOYING OR TESTING TASER EQUIPMENT
— SEVERAL STATES WHICH FORMERLY BANNED ALL STUN GUNS HAVE RECENTLY CHANGED THEIR LAW TO ALLOW LOCAL AND STATE POLICE TO USE TASERS
— USED BY UNIVERSITY CAMPUS POLICE
— USED BY US ARMY IN IRAQ AND GUANTANAMO BAY
— TASERS PURCHASED OR TESTED BY POLICE OR MILITARY IN ARGENTINA, AUSTRALIA, CANADA, FRANCE, GERMANY, ISRAEL, MEXICO, SPAIN, TURKEY, U.A. EMIRATES, UK
— 43 U.S. STATES PLACE FEW OR NO RESTRICTIONS ON POSSESSION OF SUCH STUN WEAPONS BY MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC FOR SELF DEFENSE
— COST $399.95 OR $699.95 OR $999
— LOCAL POLICE AGENCIES IN FLORIDA WERE AMONG THE FIRST TO
ADOPT THE NEW GENERATION TASERS ON A WIDE SCALE
— 12 (NEARLY 1 IN 5) OF THE 70 RECENT TASER RELATED DEATHS OCCURRED IN FLORIDA
— 4 DEATHS IN ORANGE COUNTY
— INSERT HERE INFO OTHER CASES IN FLORIDA NOT DEATH FROM A.I. REPORT AT PP14-15………..
— ORLANDO SENTINEL REPORTED IN MARCH 2005 THAT C. FL POLICE HAVE USED TASERS AGAINST 24 STUDENTS IN THE LAST 18 MOS.
— A.I. REPORTS THAT TASERS ARE USED AGAINST UNARMED SUSPECT IN 80% OF CASES
— 36% OF CASES FOR VERBAL NONCOMPLIANCE
— ONLY 3% OF CASES INVOLVING DEADLY ASSAULT.
VII. ORANGE COUNTY
— ACCORDING TO INFO RELEASED TO THE MEDIA THE ORANGE COUNTY SHERIFF OFFICE UNDER BEARY HAS 700 OF ITS1,318 DEPUTIES ARMED WITH TASERS AND RECENTLY PURCHASED 125 MORE OF THE STUN GUN
— LAST YEAR ORANGE COUNTY DEPUTIES MADE 45,033 ARRESTS AND USED TASERS 464 TIMES, INCLUDING AGAINST 14 SUSPECTS WHO WERE SO AGGRESSIVE THE LAW WOULD HAVE ALLOWED USE OF DEADLY FORCE.
— ONLY 35 SUSPECTS WERE SHOCKED WHO WERE NOT FIGHTING WITH DEPUTIES.
— A TASK FORCE APPOINTED BY SHERIFF BEARY COMPLETED A YEAR LONG LOOK INTO TASERS IN EARLY APRIL.
— TASK FORCE RECOMMENDED THAT DEPUTIES SHOULD RECEIVE MORE TRAINING ON WHEN TO USE THE TASER, BUT THE SHERIFF DOES NOT NEED TO CHANGE HIS TASER POLICY TO RESTRICT THEIR USE.
— WHAT WAS REALLY AT ISSUE WAS WHETHER THE SHERIFF OFC SHOULD ADOPT A STRICTER TASER POLICY LIKE THAT FOLLOWED BY OPD AND 10 MORE LOCAL AGENCIES.
— THOSE DEPARTMENTS PROHIBIT TASER USE UNLESS A SUSPECT ACTIVELY RESISTS A POLICE OFFICER – WHILE THE SHERIFF’S CURRENT POLICY ALLOWS TASERS TO BE USED IF A SUSPECT REFUSES A COMMAND AND DISPLAYS ANY SIGN OF INTENDING TO FIGHT
— IN RESPONSE TO THE TASK FORCE RECOMMENDATIONS DEPUTIES IN ORANG CTY WILL NOW HAVE 8 HRS OF ANNUAL TRAINING WITH TASERS – UP FROM 4 HOURS ANNUAL TRAINING
— THIS WILL ALLOW FOR 6,600 HOURS A YEAR OF TRAINING FOR THE DEPARTMENT.
VIII. WHAT THE CRITICS OF TASERS WANT
— A.I. HAS CALLED IS CALLING ALL FEDERAL, STATE AND LOCAL AUTHORITIES TO SUSPEND USE OF TASERS AND OTHER ELECTRO-SHOCK WEAPONS, PENDING AN URGENT RIGOROUS INDEPENDENT AND IMPARTIAL INQUIRY INTO THEIR USE AND EFFECTS.
— STATE SENATOR SIPLIN HAD ORIGINALLY CALLED FOR THE OUTRIGHT BAN ON THE USE OF TASERS IN FLORIDA
— HE HAS SINCE THE BEGINNING OF THIS YEAR’S LEG SESSION MODERATED THIS POSITION AND WITH SEN TONY HILL OF JACKSONVILLE THAT WOULD ONLY ALLOW LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS IN FLORIDA TO SHOCK PEOPLE WHO ARE ACTIVELY RESISTING ARREST OR AN OFFICERS COMMANDS
— AS STATED CURRENT POLICY IN ORANG CTY ALLOWS USE OF TASER TO SHOCK PEOPLE WHO ALSO PASSIVELY RESIST ARREST.