Friday, February 15, 2008

NJ Taser Bill Introduced

Yesterday, I wrote that a NJ Senate committee was discussing arming its police with tasers. This morning, I found an article stating that state Senator Anthony Bucco has introduced a bill that would give NJ cops tasers:

Sen. Anthony BuccoA sponsored a bill debated Thursday that would permit police and corrections officers to use stun guns on threatening people. The bill, which languished last year and has been reintroduced for the current legislative session, would require officers to be trained before they could use the weapons and would leave it to the attorney general to establish guidelines on who could use the guns and when.

"This gives our law enforcement agencies another tool to use other than deadly force," said Bucco, R-Morris. "I've talked to many law enforcement agencies throughout the state and asked their opinions before I put this bill in. They all felt the time has come, that they need this tool."

The Senate Law and Public Safety and Veterans' Affairs Committee took no action on the bill Thursday.

So the proposal to give cops tasers is being made under the frame of reducing gun use. Whether tasers are helping achieve reduced firearm mortality is widely debated.

What’s not up for debate (unless you’ve got stock in Taser International) is the reality that taser user is replacing traditional law enforcement. Sportin Life at Pam’s House Blend pointed me to this piece by Naomi Klein. In it, she raises this exact issue:

It was only three months ago that video of the death of Robert Dziekanski at the Vancouver International Airport caused an international furor. The tragedy exposed the most prevalent misconception about tasers: that they are used primarily as an alternative to guns. As former Toronto mayor John Sewell told me, “the taser is not the thing that replaces the gun, it’s what replaces all the other things that police might do other than use a gun, like talk to you.”

That certainly appears to have been the case with Mr. Dziekanski. When the RCMP approached him, they made no attempt to calm the unarmed Polish man, or to discover the source of his extreme agitation. Within 25 seconds, he was getting zapped.

PostBlog (06-17-08): an update on tasers in NJ is here.