December 04, 2006

Taser or Not to Taser

Re: The Incident of Student Repeatedly Tasered for not Leaving a Library. via Pharyngula

Oddly I don't see this as the "abuse of power" that many liberal bloggers seem to be calling it. Sure, it's totally not cool, but this isn't really where the crux of the problem lies as far as I'm calling it.

There are two problems with the secirity guards' actions: 1) They haven't received adequate training on taser operation, execution and results, 2) They're shit scared, 3) They're trigger happy. This is what has resulted in the ensuing abuse of power. But it's not abuse of power for power's sake.

1. I think this is a major contributor to tasering-incidents gone bad. I think tasering is a good idea. Because the other option is a gun. But that is the main point. You shouldn't really be using a taser unless if your taser was replaced with a firearm you'd be using that. A taser is a potentially lethal device, and on top of that it has a high ability to take down a full grown man (actually that's what they are designed for). That the guards are asking a repeatedly tasered youth to stand up shows they are confusing a tasers capabilities with a small shock device, like a cattle prod.

A taser takes people down, it's not a simple shock. Tasers should only be used if you'd use a firearm in a similar situation.

I'd like to think that security guards wouldn't use a pistol on an uppity liberal arts major refusing to leave the library.

2. This student can't be called blameless in his own situation. I know it's a bit along the lines of saying a girl is fault at her own rape, but you have to face facts that sometimes it's true ... there are certain things you can do to minimize risk to yourself, and things you do can excacerbate the situation. The actions of other students don't help either, with the guards increasingly being faced with a proto-riot situation.

All it would have taken would have been one guy to leap on a guard and I'd feel safe betting 10 more would have followed. This led to the guards being absolutely shit scared, there's over a 100 students there, and maybe 10-15 security guards at the most (I think I counted 6). Nobody wants a riot situation, far better (well, if we totally disregard any sense of ethics) to intimidate the non-engaged students than go soft on this guy.

Had they not tasered the living fuck out of the poor guy, do you think the confrontational student would have backed down after being threatened with being tasered for asking for a badge number?

3. Yee-haw. Look at this guy shake when I zap him. This is where we get into real abuse of power. Security by this point is totally ethically dissassociated from the events, and will look for any excuse to zap anything and anybody - as shown by the student getting threatened (illegally) for asking for a badge number. That was abuse of power. Tasering the hell out the poor student who forgot his student card, not cool, but I'm gonna blame poor training not heavy handed thuggery on a part of the guards.

Hopefully UCLA , or its security providers will have some serious sessions on the appropriate use of tasers. Or give them all glocks, cos hopefully they'll be fully aware of the damage they can do.

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