Tuesday, June 29, 2010

ZenTiger Taser Alternatives

The United Nations consider tasers a form of torture, and urge NZ Police not to use them on violent people not responding to the command to "stop".

The thing is that Police have a right to self defence and safety in their job, and I'd hazard a guess that violent people are not going to respect the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights in their interaction with the law at that juncture.

It's not that such people can plead ignorance of the concept of human rights. Once arrested, they seem to understand them chapter and verse.

For every victim of a taser episode, I'd like to see the corresponding statistics for Police wounded in the line of duty, and a summary of incident reports where the Police needed to use tasers against armed assailants. The conversation is unbalanced without that information.

Never-the-less, I take the point that tasers are dangerous, and alternatives must be considered. I did a quick hunt around to see what alternatives the United Nations members use, and I present my findings here for consideration:

South Africa - the cosh
Somalia - rubber bullets
Bosnia - a bullet in the back of the head
North Korea - a bullet in the front of the head
Canada - Tear gas (especially around the G20 summit)
Sierra Leone - Amputation of weapon hand
Russia - A full assault team
Nigeria - A sign saying "You are arrested. Deposit your fine into this account..."
United States - White, three lawyers. Black, a baton. Mexican, a green card.
Sweden - nothing, there is no crime there. La la la.
Sudan - starvation
Scotland - Knives, if they can take it from the assailant.
England - are you kidding? It's too dangerous to make an arrest.
New Zealand without the taser - real bullets

Until boing(c) (actually, look further down the link and check out Riot Foam) is available in quantity, we might be stuck with the taser, or we may have to ignore the stats for police and bystanders injured when criminals continue to act in a criminal manner.

A lawyer leading the charge against police adopting Taser stun guns is welcoming a United Nations report that describes the 50,000-volt stun guns as a "form of torture".

Just weeks before police decide whether to adopt Tasers as a crime-fighting tool, the report has condemned their use.

The UN Committee Against Torture said it was worried by the use of Tasers in Portugal. It says the stun guns cause "extreme pain, constituted a form of torture, and ... in certain cases could also cause death".

Lawyer Marie Dyhrberg, from the Campaign Against The Taser group, said the UN committee's findings should be taken seriously by the police. "They have no agenda, and they have access to very reliable information."

A police national headquarters spokesman said the overseas report was "not especially relevant" to the New Zealand Taser trial. "But that doesn't mean we don't take any notice of it."

Police will report to Police Commissioner Howard Broad on how their 12-month Taser trial went by December 14, and he will make the final decision on their future use.

International concerns over Tasers have been growing. In Canada, three men have died in the past six weeks after being zapped, starting with unarmed Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski, Tasered by police at Vancouver airport on October 14.

In the latest death, 36-year-old Robert Knipstrom died four days after being pepper sprayed, batoned and Tasered by police.

Council for Civil Liberties chairman Michael Bott said the UN report reflected a backlash against Tasers. Tasers could be lethal if used on a person with a pacemaker or on certain types of medication.

"We still don't know the long-term effects," Bott said.

"The UN is urging caution on this, but the police are rushing into it. We need to pause and take a breath."

5 comment(s):

Ciaron said...

How about simply doing what the cop asks you to do.....

might be a bit hard, NCEA and all that.

Anonymous said...


ZenTiger said...

Yes, very sane advice.

jennifer said...

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Anonymous said...

Bullets would be better. Makes a not so violent person think twice before pushing their luck, makes the cop think twice before pulling trigger. Tasars ease the responsiblity on both parties by reducing the consequences.

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