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I do not believe police officers involved in unintended injury or death actions also answer to criminal charges because officers regularly find themselves in dangerous situations, often having to make split-second decisions about the use of deadly force and risking their own lives in the process, courts have the difficult task of determining responsibility when things go wrong. The use of deadly force in many cases reflects the risks inherent in policing and the duty to reduce immediate dangers to the public and law enforcement personnel. Because law enforcement officers may use force relative to what is necessary to do their job, whether to arrest a suspect or to defend themselves, it is not always clear whether an officer used excessive force or responded to a perceived threat. However, there is a growing recognition that deadly force, even when considered “justified” from a legal perspective, can sometimes be prevented. A 2015 Police Executive Research Forum report cited missed opportunities to “reduce” fighting and called for better conflict reduction training and cultural changes within the police force to highlight tactics that reduce the need for violence. Research suggests that organizational policies and training can safely reduce the use of lethal force. Several police agencies have successfully used similar training approaches to increase the use of de-escalation strategies in situations involving people with serious mental illness, due to long-standing community concerns about the use of violence against this population. Understanding the circumstances of deaths from the use of lethal force can inform the development of prevention strategies, improve risk assessment, and change police response to improve the safety of police, communities, and officers, and to prevent related deaths. with police action.
Across the United States, more and more law enforcement agencies are adding tasers to their enforcement options. Taser-using law enforcement agencies report a dramatic decrease in suspect and officer injuries after adding tasers to their capabilities. At the same time, we are seeing reports in the media that would lead you to believe that any Taser use results in death. In fact, I believe tasers should be used when dealing with any deadly force situation or when a suspect is uncooperative. The use of tasers is more likely to be considered reasonable when the crime is serious or violent. (“Excessive-Force Taser Lawsuits Against the Police | Nolo”) Conversely, if the offense resembles a traffic violation or nonviolent resistance against an officer, the use of Tasers is less likely to be acceptable. Even if the offense is minor, it may be okay for an officer to use a taser on a hostile and uncooperative suspect. And due to the lack of consensus on the part of the medical community, they were more of a media phenomenon than a legal one. As Taser law evolves, law enforcement agencies need to stay abreast of current research and case law to determine the appropriateness of Taser use in specific cases. Some of the additional issues that have developed include where the taser fits into the continued use of force and Taser compatibility with pepper spray. Tasers can help officers deal with non-compliant individuals. Additionally, tasers are a class of less lethal tool designed to increase officer capabilities. Before tasers, officers had extreme options, relying on verbal commands or the use of lethal force with a firearm, and because Tasers are an option to consider before a firearm, I believe it should be a police tool across our nation. Also, I do not agree with what David Martin said at the beginning of the first video since using a taser is always safer than using a gun, statistically.
Segars, L. Taser Lawsuits Against the Police. Retrieved from https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/taser-lawsuits-against-the-police.html
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Discussion 2 // Chapter 3
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I do believe those police officers involved in unintended injury or death actions should also answer criminal charges. I feel as though when making split-second decisions you have more opportunities to make mistakes. Sometimes officers genuinely do make mistakes and sadly it does result in harm to another person. However, just because an officer claims it was a mistake does not always mean they are telling the truth. At the end of the day, there are bad people in the world and they will say anything to get out of trouble when caught. If they truly made a mistake and had no intention of harming another person it will be handled accordingly through the justice system. “The Court has yet to fully examine under what conditions the application of CEDs is considered unreasonable, creating a potential for an emerging source of liability for police in America” Novak et al. (2020).
Factors that should be taken into consideration as to whether or not the use of a taser was necessary are the level of threat, safety for yourself, the subject(s), and others, as well as if de-escalation is possible. “The Court has yet to fully examine under what conditions the application of CEDs is considered unreasonable, creating a potential for an emerging source of liability for police in America” Novak et al. (2020). When looking at the bodycam footage of the officer using a firearm to neutralize the threat, in my opinion, it was not a “fair fight”. At first, you see officer #1 pulled out his taser and used it and the suspect backed up due to the shock but it did not incapacitate him. Officer #2, however, had his firearm drawn (his taser was taken but if the roles were reversed I wonder if he would have done the same) while Officer #1 did the same, and gunshots followed shortly after due to the suspect looking like he was going to run or make a swift movement of some sort. Yes, the subject was wrong for taking the officer’s taser and trying to flee. I cannot sit here and tell you what he was thinking when he did but at the end of the day, the threat levels were not the same throughout the entirety of the encounter. It was a stressful situation and happened very quickly. I do not blame the officers and if put into that situation I don’t know if I would do the same but it goes to show why training, de-escalation, and safety play a major factor in the use of tasers and any tool used by law enforcement.
Yes, tasers should be one of the police officers’ tools.” When used properly, a Taser is a very effective tool in law enforcement.”(Martin, 2011) A taser can be a great non-lethal option to stop a threat and minimize the amount of use of force that takes place. Although there have been some cases where people have died from being tased it is that common as stated in the video “Police have tased nearly one and a half million suspects. According to Amnesty International 485 have died afterward.”(Martin, 2011) which alone yes 485 seems like a lot but as said by Rick smith people will blame what they don’t understand. People are scared of being tased and do not understand how it works so when a rare instance happens and someone dies they will blame it on the device but when used properly there is no aftermath from being tased. A police officer is not going to be able to ask someone trying to harm them or others if they have any underlying health issues before handling the situation at hand trying to keep everyone safe. Everything will come with risks in the case of tasers. You have the risk of police officers being lazy and dependent on the device and the potential to cause injury to the subject.
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PoliceActivity. (2018, August 9). Bodycam show police officer shooting suspect who grabbed taser. [YouTube].
Martin, D. (Correspondent), (2011, November 13). Taser: An officer’s weapon of choice [Television series episode]. In M. Walsh (Producer)
CBS News. 60 Minutes. New York, NY. Retrieved from
Novak, K., Cordner, G., Smith, B., & Roberg, R. (2020). Police & Society (8th Ed.). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
CJE3115 Discussion 2 Chp. 3.docx
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Chapter 3 Discussion
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The debate on whether police officers should be tried for unintended injuries or death actions remains a hot topic that raises a range of divergent views. By law, police protect citizens and ensure their rights are upheld. Police, therefore, should be tried in court for any form of damage that they cause. However, they should be given a chance to justify to the jury that the actions were never intentional and occurred due to either self-defence or response to the law. For instance, when a person is caught by the police trying to steal in the mall, the police officer tries all ways to arrest the thief, but the thief becomes defensive, and as a result, the person is injured as the police officer tries to capture this person.
Similarly, a complainant who has been injured by the police or a family of the deceased, presumably killed by a police officer under wrongful or unintended injury, may file a complaint in the state court and demand compensation. In 2015, in a lawsuit filed by ACLU, a settlement agreement was reached for victims of wrongful death due to unconstitutional conditions, solitary confinement, and failed healthcare (
ACLU Case Selection Guidelines 2021). In a case where the complainant proves that the situations surrounding the injury or death resulted from police negligence and could have been averted, the police officer should be held accountable for his actions. The reason why police officers should be tried in court for such actions first because it helps uphold the integrity of the police service. If the police are to be left without trial, they might develop a tendency to justify every heinous crime they commit, even out of carelessness, as an unintended action.
The need to treat all suspects as innocent until proven guilty necessitated the emergence of less lethal weapons, such as tasers. They are deployed to interfere with the mobility of suspects without harming or killing them. Unlike guns, they are more humane and easier to use. However, this does not warrant the use of tasers in all scenarios. Police officers should only use tasers when the suspects resist arrest, are violent or try to harm the arresting or handling officers. When there is reasonable suspicion, and the suspect is against the stop and frisk principle, a police officer may use a taser to confront the suspect.
Additionally, if the suspect exhibits the risk of escaping, a police officer may use a taser to keep the suspect under safe custody (
Www.medfordoregon.gov 2020). The taser aims to enhance the safety of the officer and any citizen within range. However, the law restricts the use of tasers on pregnant women, minors, and handcuffed persons. Such persons are perceived not to be violent or less violent, and using a taser on them could be dangerous with health complications.
A taser should be one of the basic operating tools of a police officer. In their daily duties, police officers are sometimes faced with hostile situations with criminals who are often armed and violent. When outnumbered, it proves difficult to arrest such and bring them to book. However, with a taser, police officers can handle and stop criminals with less force, thus guaranteeing the safety of their lives. A taser ensures suspects are subdued and with dignity and minimizes the risk of death that is common when guns are involved.
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According to Novak et al. (2020) “In many ways, civil liability is inherent in the awesome power that police have in a democratic society, and civil lawsuits often arise when police officers abuse this power, engage in negligent behavior, or otherwise violate the civil rights of a citizen” (p.77). Therefore, whether police officers who are involved in civil liabilities should also answer to criminal charges, depends on the gravity of the situation and the specificities of the occurrences. Therefore, body cams are essential for officers to wear in order to obtain the details of the events and how the situation unfolded. For example, PoliceActivity (2018) shows an exemplary example of self defense on the officer’s part. At that point in time, the officer did not know whether the individual had grabbed the officer’s gun or taser and as a result, used his quick thinking to shoot the individual. In the case that the individual had grabbed the gun instead, there might have been a possible shootout between the individual and officer in which could have resulted in more casualties.
Conducted energy devices otherwise known as tasers, are used in a long distance capacity due to the electric charge that is emitted from the device (Novak et al., 2020, p.87). With that being said, specific factors should be considered when determining when it is necessary to discharge a taser towards a suspect; such factors consist of whether a suspect is resistant to arrest, there is an imminent threat to an officer or surrounding individuals, and the severity of the crime . As depicted by Martin (2011), Darryl Turner was a 17 year old boy who had been fired from a local supermarket for stealing goods while on the job. A police officer on call discharged his taser towards the young man after refusing to leave the store. Turner did not collapse after the first charge and as a result, the officer discharged the taser once again until Turner collapsed. According to Mcauley (2013), “the officer held the trigger for an additional five seconds of shock once Turner was on the ground”. As a result, the electric charged induced a heart attack in which resulted in Turner’s death. Excessive use of force might have been applied due to the fact that Turner had already collapsed on the ground and was not moving. Therefore, there was no immediate threat to the officer or the surrounding individuals in the store.
For the most part, police officers carry their sidearm, handcuffs, a baton, tactical lights and on occasion, pepper spray or a taser (Miller, 2021). With that being said, with any weapon, police officers should receive proper and extensive training prior to obtaining a taser in their line of work. “Unlike other forms of less-than-lethal force like batons, PR-24s, or oleoresin capsicum spray, CED’s can be applied at a distance, reducing the need for officers to be in close proximity with the citizen, and thus it is a safer use-of-force alternative for officers” (Novak et al., 2020, p.87). As a result, tasers may be seen as a safer alternative for police officers but may induce codependency for the weapon as well. Therefore, I do not believe that police officers should contain a taser as a tool in their belt. Police officer Field explains the use of tasers as a shortcut to get the compliance of suspects (Martin, 2011).Therefore, police officers should be participating in de-escalation training in order to aid them in defusing a situation or helping them understand individuals who are erratic and may have mental illnesses before impulsively discharging their weapon. According to Oliver (2022), “De-escalation training teaches officers to slow down, create space, and use communication techniques to defuse a potentially dangerous situation”.
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