The Merciad

Tasers remain an issue

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It is painfully more obvious than a Taser shot that many people do not understand the realities behind Taser usage and the purposes behind it.

Last week, Kathleen Vogtle wrote that “Tasers have become highly controversial, as their use has been blamed for over 245 deaths.”

This is a very fluid number, as most alleged deaths list the number as closer to 150, not 245. In addition, these are worldwide deaths since 2001. Even using Kathleen’s number, this means that only 27 people worldwide have died per year due to the use of Tasers. Taser International reports that their product has saved at least 9,000 lives over the same time period, because police were able to reach for a less-than-lethal alternative to their firearm.

Moving on, she also writes that “Even volunteers who have been Tased as part of police or military training have said the experience was painful, even on a healthy, calm individual in a relaxed and controlled environment.” Being hit by roughly 50,000 volts of electricity absolutely hurts. It will also leave the suspect feeling slight fatigue for an hour afterward. Yet, it subdues individuals of almost any size and physical prowess with benevolent immediacy and leaves no lasting injuries. This is vastly different than the use of nightsticks by police.

To incapacitate a suspect utilizing an asp, or nightstick, police are trained to aim for joints and cause enough significant damage that the suspect can no longer resist. This means you can either deal with less than five seconds of pain or deal with two broken elbows, because you did not want to comply with the officer.

Erie had 7 murders, 88 rapes, 317 robberies, and 234 assaults in 2008. In addition, in the last two years, a man was beaten to death near the front lawn of Mercyhurst College, CVS was robbed and an individual was robbed at gunpoint at the PNC across the street. The judge-sworn police officers of Police & Safety do not wear neon signs that state “I am not armed” to the gun-toting robber that would shoot him or her.

As detailed by last year’s Uniform Crime Report, our campus crime levels exceed Penn State Behrend, Gannon, and Edinboro’s combined in almost every listed crime. Even comparing our college to Ohio State University, on a corrected scale, leaves Mercyhurst looking violent and crime-ridden. We do not live in Mr. Rogers’ neighborhood, despite the denial of much of “Mercy-world.”

Kathleen additionally said that “pepper spray [has] been used effectively against suspects and without serious adverse effects.” However, even pepper spray was alleged to contribute to at least 26 deaths between 1993 and 1995, according to the American Civil Liberties Association.

Also, at its best, pepper spray is effective for up to 15 feet. Outdoors, its effectiveness is even less. Tasers can fire up to 35 feet outdoors and can be used indoors as a contact stun gun without rendering both the suspect and officer incapacitated, as the use of pepper spray can.

Ohio police departments that use Taser products require the officers to fill out paperwork every time their Taser is drawn, even if it is not fired. In addition, many departments carry models with cameras attached to the device to provide video evidence of the situation, as well as methods used. When a Taser is used, Cleveland police officers are required to call an ambulance so that a trained medical professional can make certain there are no ill effects for any subject.

Finally, Ms. Vogtle wrote that judge-sworn police officers should be prohibited from carrying the life-saving Taser device “until definitively prove[n]” necessary. I feel confident writing that waiting until a student or officer is severely wounded or killed is far too long a wait.

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2 Responses to “Tasers remain an issue”

  1. Snarky on September 29th, 2010 11:39 am

    Before I even begin this comment, I would like to state that in no way do I deny being biased in my response to this article. Indeed, I know Ms. Vogtle personally and freely claim that I am offended on her behalf for this obviously confrontational response to a quite normal article, however, while it is the reason I read this article, I find myself annoyed for an entirely different reason as well. I am writing as a student who is aggravated by the quality of the article above.
    It is not that it is grammatically in the wrong consistently or that it is obviously a mess but that it has no point other than refuting a previous article. I think I speak for others when I saw that we of short attention spans don’t have interest in hearing of the same topic three times, in the same vein, even if it involves differing opinions. I’m sure I would think differently had I been interested in this topic in and of itself or if it had been the subject of a lecture, but I find this article (from my perspective)to be utterly superfluous. I realize that opinion articles are generally superfluous to everyone who does not care about them but I can’t be expected to think an article worthwhile in any case if all it does is refute a fellow Merciad writer while offering nothing on the subject of tasers that is particularly relevant or any opinion on the issue that is new. Also, if counter-point arguments in a small paper were to go on forever it would become boring very quickly. In the end, I am simply bothered by the fact that this article is allowed such a lack of focus on anything but a pointless refutation. Lastly, I’d just like to say that I do not view Mercyhurst as crime-ridden, does anyone else? If so, I’m rather interested in hearing why. That’s an article I’d like to read.


    JohnBaranowski Reply:

    First, I’d like to point out that with this second response, this article is now tied for “most comments”, even though that category has been removed from the sidebar.

    Second, I am shocked by this comment. If anything, snarky’s comment is completely superfluous, not Ruic’s article. I also know Ms. Vogtle, I feel no remorse in saying that her concerns are misplaced. In a point-counterpoint, there is supposed to be some argument, and considering that Ruic has always used a confrontational style (which works REALLY well for him, I might add), there really is nothing wrong with his article.

    This is an important topic, the safety of our campus. Do you know why nobody seems to feel Mercyhurst is unsafe? Because there aren’t enough articles telling us the reality of our situation. The campus isn’t going to push that there are safety issues, that would be quite detrimental to enrollment. What we can do, is be aware, and help our police force to better protect us. When arming our police officers, who are trained as full-fledged police officers, almost all of which have firearms training which is not easy to get through, was brought up, everybody freaked out at the possibility of guns on campus. Tasers are a very, VERY effective compromise. They don’t kill people (I bet office supplies have a larger kill rate), and they really can’t be abused, considering the video camera models and models that disperse a confetti of serial numbers with every fire. How can this possibly be a bad thing? I’m still waiting on a good reason not to issue TASERs.

    How about we actually pull our collective heads out of the sand, look at reality, and do a little something other than saying “No” to every option? That sure would be a nice change of pace.


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Tasers remain an issue