There’s been some discussion around this area about an incident in which an 84-year-old man was restrained with a TASER after getting violent at a local veteran’s home.
People always come to me with the same question when there is a discussion of excessive force: Couldn’t the police have done something else?
You know what? NO, they couldn’t. And here is why. First off none of us don’t know the totality of the circumstances. We hear 84-year-old man and we automatically think “frail and helpless.” I don’t know what happened leading up to the deployment of the TASER, but I do know a few things about TASERS. They hurt. When things work correctly they immobilize the person getting the ride. They allow police officers to move in and restrain a person with reduced risk of harm to either the officer or the subject.
So, consider these scenarios and consider which sounds safer: You get to the scene and there is an old man going crazy. You get two or three officers and you go hands on directing the man to the floor. Chances are if he’s already agitated he is resisting the entire way. Then a 200-pound cop falls on the old guy, pins him to the floor and forces his arms behind his back for the cuffs. Or… two officers respond, the contact officer deploys the TASER and the cover officer grabs the man as he goes to the ground and easily get the cuffs in place with minimal resistance.
The TASER has a document history of reducing injuries to officers and subjects. It is not 100-percent effective. Nothing is. But too many civilians have decided the TASER is the punchline of a big joke. How many times have you heard “Hey, can you TASER my buddy?” It is to the point where civilians look on the TASER as a tool of punishment. It is not. It is a tool that helps to control and stabilize potentially violent subject with minimal risk to everyone. I’d rather be hit with a TASER than sprayed with OC… the OC keeps burning long after the cuffs are on.