Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Revised Cincinnati Police taser policies

Cincinnati Police along with the city's law department announced last Monday the completion of a comprehensive review of the Department's Use of Force policy, specifically related to deployment of the Taser X26 electronic stun device, triggered in part due to concerns about the Taser's capacity to cause death in certain rare situations. (City's memo)

In that regard, Cincinnati police officers are instructed that "When deploying a cartridge from the TASER X26, frontal shots are prohibited except in situations of self defense or defense of another. The TASER X26 should never be aimed at an individual's head, neck, eyes, throat, chest/breast, or genitals. The preferred target area is the back of the individual actively resisting arrest."

The policy review also sought to address a number of other objectives including:

*CPD Use of Force policies need to emphasize provisions outlined in the Supreme Court's
Graham v. Connor decision, in which the Court determined that an objective reasonableness standard should apply to a free citizen's claim that law enforcement officials used excessive force in the course of making an arrest, investigatory stop, or other "seizure" of his person.
* Reducing the number of secondary injuries resulting from Taser deployment;

*· Bringing the policy up to date with Department reorganization and new reporting enhancements.
The policy review "concluded that Tasers remains an important and beneficial tool in the police profession, and allows arresting officers to keep distance between themselves and suspects, which reduces the need to resort to lethal force options. Moreover, significant reduction of injuries to officers and suspects has been documented since introduction of the Taser."

Enquirer article this morning had more information, including repeated mention of the City's consideration of an article by Dr. Douglas Zipes, of Indiana University's Krannert Institute of Cardiology, in which he "noted seven deaths among the eight cases he studied, concluding that a shock from the Taser 'can cause cardiac electric capture and provoke cardiac arrest' as a result of an abnormally rapid heart rate and uncontrolled, fluttering contractions."

"Taser International, which manufactures the devices, attacked Zipes' conclusions," this morning's article says, with a spokesman for the Arizona-based company countering that "Zipes' Circulation case series is contrary to the three major Taser position statements by the American Academy of Emergency Medicine, American Medical Association, and the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Institute of Justice."

In response to Cincinnati's policy changes, though, that spokesman agreed "Their new policy…is consistent with legal principles when a suspect is an immediate threat. We agree that back shots remain the preferred area when practical… the suspect's back has always been a preferred target zone."

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