Theodore A. Hoppe


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The Criminal Misuse of Tasers by the Pollice

Incidents such as this are becoming more frequent:

"After wandering away from a Montana veterans home, 77-year-old Korean War Veteran Stanley L. Downen, who suffered from severe Alzheimer’s, fell and hit his face on the pavement after being tasered by police, resulting in his death three weeks later, according to a lawsuit filed by Downen's granddaughter."

As the article indicates there are other stories of this nature.

"Other incidents of extreme overreaction and police abuse with tasers like Downen's have been seen across the country. Last year, A Chicago woman who was 8-months pregnant was tasered by police over a parking violation. Police in New Mexico tasered a 10-year-old boy after he allegedly refused to wash an officer’s patrol car. A 50-year-old Texas man who was having a seizure was tasered by police, causing a heart attack and permanent brain damage."

Vermont is currently holding hearings regarding a statewide policy on taser use by the police and state police. Legislators saw a need for such a law after an individual with a history of mental illness died after being tased by the state police.

What are your thoughts? Is the use of tasers by the police against vulnerable populations a growing concern? Do police overreact or escalate a situation? How could situations be handled better?

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    Apr 17 2013: I have not researched this issue to know if it is getting worse, but I believe fear, stress, and the need, or perception of need, to act rapidly may be at the root of bad judgments and actions of all kinds. Abuses and preventing them are likely linked to 1)criteria for selection of street officers, 2)training of those officers, and 3)working conditions. These, then, are logical levers for addressing problems related to use of excessive force and other abuses by police.
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      Apr 17 2013: I do not want to give them impression that I am unsympathetic to the police. They are given the authority to use the weapons we give them, to do a job that they perceive we want them to do. In Vermont, legislators considered this and understood that a uniform training policy might provide a greater sense of who the vulnerable population is and what the option are for dealing with them.

      Still, policing is a stressful occupation, and my feeling is that we as a society do not understand the implications of this stress. Cops can suffer from the same kinds of traumatic stress soldiers experience, as well as other psychological issues associated with the job.

      Phillip Stinson of Bowling Green University stated, "Research that provides information on arrested officers, their victims, and the context surrounding these crimes could help to develop more effective user guidelines and training to prevent future events." Unfortunately, the police resist scholarly examination of their conduct. Some too much change.
      The bottom line is that if police use tactics such as excessive force it is we and not them that must somehow address it.
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        Apr 18 2013: I did not take your question as indicating you were unsympathetic to police. I was thinking of precisely what you described in your second paragraph about stress. I cannot imagine choosing such a job and am not at all sure that those who choose that line of work understand what they are getting into.
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    Apr 24 2013: Re: Vermont's legislative actions

    "Committee Chairman Sweaney said more training is clearly needed.
    “We should have a system set up by which every police officer in the state gets that training, and especially double if you’re using any kind of Tasers,” she said.
    Sweaney said her panel may not have enough time this year to finish work on the bill. She said if it does not pass this year, it will be a top priority for the next legislative session."

    For full report, click on :
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    Apr 18 2013: I am not aware of any existing empirical research on the criminal misuse of TASERs by police officers.
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      Apr 18 2013: Hi Ted,

      To my knowledge there is only one empirical study on police in existence.

      My sense is that the untested abuse in the USA and other western countries is a piece with the empty cities in China.

      It is a function of timespan .. or more critically - patience.

      Back in the 90's it was clear that social justice in the west could only be achieved by encouraging a middle class in China. Steps were taken to ensure just that. But those seeking western social justice were not cognisant of the timespans recognised in China.

      The disintegration of social justice in western countries is part of the long term inversion going on which is designed to fill all those middle class cities in China.

      This is good - our obesity crisis will be solved as the income balance is inverted and the Chinese cities fill.

      My early warning is a recent cost study for my product - It can now be done in China for the same retail unit price which I charge .. except for the critical subjective skill I with-held. The Chinese factory will get my endorsement for no royalty the instant they demonstrate that they have gained that skill.
      Pakistan and India failed.

      We will see. I have been at pains to maintain friendships. Have you?

      The maturity of the new great wall is not far off - China already owns the USA, and all that remains is the transference of military potential - this happens a lot quicker in China than in the west.

      This is the result of trusting our interests to corporations - they go where the power is and have no recognition of people. We have done exceedingly well in our new bastard child.
      Unfortunately, he has gone to work for another.
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    Apr 17 2013: I think that job attracts that element that tends to overreact rather than assuage but most are professional and mitigate situations. But I do object to being told that I need to buckle my seat belt and that it is going to cost 172 dollars for this heinous crime, but that is the nanny state more than the police.

    Do you have any statistics on this that would indicate that this is a trend?