Should Police Officers Be Allowed to Use Tasers?

A Philadelphia man was killed a few weeks ago. Actually, it wasn’t a man, it was a 15 year old teenager holding a iron (the kind you use on your clothes, not your tires). The Philadelphia Police were called to the scene for an alleged domestic dispute. The Philadelphia Police shot and killed the boy.

The Philadelphia community was up in arms at the Philadelphia Police for killing the boy. Immediately, questions were asked as to why the Philadelphia Police did not use a less lethal alternative to subdue the boy with the iron. The community claims that pepper spray or at least a Taser could have been utilized to subdue the boy until police could get him under control. It turns out, the Philadelphia Police officers who work the street everyday do not have Tasers. Only upper-ranked officers, who do not usually work the beat, have these Taser weapons. This is probably due to the cost of these alternative weapons.

If you do not know, a Taser is meant to be a non-lethal weapon that delivers a large jolt of electricity to a person. The electric shock is so large that the person falls to the ground and is at least momentarily immobilized. Police departments all over the world are now making use of this tool.

This tool is not perfect though. It has led to many, many deaths. Some people’s bodies are not meant to take an electrical shock of that magnitude. Older people and people with heart problems could easily be killed with this weapon. The problem is that some police officers have been using the weapon more frequently than absolutely needed. Some police officers have been labeled “Taser happy”, using the weapon too often. This type of activity has caused much debate and lawsuits against police departments.

For a local example, a Warwick, Bucks County woman was Tasered during a routine traffic stop. The Warwick Pennsylvania Police suspected this woman to be under the influence of alcohol and asked her to turn the car off. Some kind of argument occurred and the police officer Tasered her five (5) times.

This woman made a claim against the Warwick Police Department alleging that her civil rights were violated. The Warwick Police Department agreed and decided to pay this woman $16,000 for her troubles.

These are two different types of issues facing local PA & NJ police departments. Should police officers use Tasers or not? Are there other less dangerous weapons available to subdue a person? Should police officers be help personally responsible if they clearly break established rules and injure or kill someone? What do you think?