Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Tools Of The Trade

When I was trained in the academy years ago, cops were taught to use a variety of non-lethal instruments whenever someone did not want to submit to an arrest. All these instruments produce compliance by inflicting pain.

First of all, in most states it is against the law to resist arrest even if the arrest is unlawful. If you are innocent, you must still submit. Once you start to resist arrest there is a sliding response scale that the cop will use to produce compliance. It ranges from the "Golden Tongue" tactic - where you convince the defendant that he should submit without a struggle - through various stages of more physical convincing that involves poking, prodding, pushing, pelting, pummeling, pounding, pistol whipping and ultimately pumping lead into the uncooperative miscreant.

There are jacks, saps, batons, ASP's, claws, day sticks, night sticks, aircraft quality aluminum flashlights, slappers and sap gloves. There wasn't much training for some of these items, particularly the claws, saps, slappers and jacks. But they were all used in some fashion against foreheads, cheeks, jowls, throats, wrists, ribs, testicles, kneecaps, shins and ankles.

And they worked pretty well too. Of course there were those who needed more convincing than others and most cops were more than willing to provide additional course work in Police Etiquette. Choke holds were the most dangerous and cops were specifically warned against "cranking" on someone's windpipe with a police baton. Crushing a larnyx was definately not recommended.

We were also issued mace (a concentrated form of CS or teargas) and then pepper spray. These also worked, but they worked on the cop too. As a rookie I quickly learned that when you are up close and personal with a drunken mope, you don't want to use mace. It bounces off the mope's face and right back into yours. Mace comes out of the canister with enough force to travel almost twenty feet. Plus, he's drunk and you're not.

This is a Bad Thing To Do 'cause most likely you'll just piss him off even more with the added benefit that now you are unable to see what he's fixing to do.

But technology offers new methods of subduing mopes without killing them. At least hopefully without killing them. The Taser was such a device. When they first came out, many law enforcement agencies resisted using these highly mobile pistol-shaped defibrillation paddles. Now over 12,500 agencies all over the world issue these to their staff.

But there is a risk to their use:

A man who died Monday after being shot by a Clay officer with a Taser stun gun appears to be Central New York's first Taser-related fatality.

Just minutes after a Clay police officer shot Christopher H. Jackson, 37, in his bedroom in the Norstar Apartments in Clay, he was conscious and breathing, police said. But he was not responsive to their questions, Clay police said. He suffered cardiac arrest as paramedics worked on him.

Clay police are one of 16 Central New York police agencies with Tasers. Taser International says it has supplied Tasers to 12,500 police agencies worldwide.

The Taser has been hailed as one of the greatest tools available to police officers today. But deaths have occurred in incidents after a Taser device was used on people. Amnesty International says there have been more than 290 Taser-related deaths in the United States since June 2001.

Taser International, through spokesman Steve Tuttle, cautioned against jumping to conclusions on the cause of Monday's death until all the facts are known.

No comments: