Chicago’s New Taser Policy a Shock to Officers

Chicago has once again lead the nation in homicides and shootings but instead of giving officers additional tools to protect themselves and citizens a new policy all but strips their ability to use Tasers. Now the administration is faced with an unfair labor lawsuit by the union representing those officers and a violent start to the New Year.

2017 was another violent year for Chicago with 3,543 shootings and 650 homicides plus a record number of carjackings. New Year’s Eve along accounted for 23 shootings and one death. With this continued violence one would think the city and police leadership would be exploring ways to equip police better and protect the citizens. But the recently enacted policy concerning the use of Tasers by members of the city police department does just the opposite.

It was thought the new policy, which was enacted following criticism of the frequent use of force by the department, would prohibit the shocking of fleeing suspects who otherwise pose no threat. Advocates had pointed out that numerous other departments had adopted similar policies and endorsed by use of force experts. But the new policy goes much further than that, and in doing so places officers and citizens at risk.

Chicago officers are now discouraging officers from deploying the Taser in a wide range of circumstances including when a suspect flees, is intoxicated or under the influence of drugs, could fall & suffer a head injury or otherwise be injured. While the policy does not specifically ban the use in these situations, it does leave an officer who fails to follow the guidelines open to discipline.

So what is wrong with this policy?

First, by offering guidance and not clear-cut guidelines it offers no strict framework for officers or supervisors. What one officer sees as reasonable another will see as a violation.Same with those supervisors called upon to investigate the use of force complaints – they are left wondering “What is permissible?”

Second, it all but eliminates the use of the Taser in those situations it is best suited to address. Someone fights or otherwise commits a violent crime and runs – can’t Taser them. The suspect is drunk, high or otherwise not acting normally, which is a wide percentage of those who are also violent, and the Taser’s use in question. Plus, almost any suspect is likely to fall and risk an injury when Tased.

Yes, there have been incidents of the Taser being misused. Yes, there are probably officers in need of additional training in both the Taser and use of force in general. But restricting the across the board use of a tool which has become so depended upon, and which undoubtedly reduce injury to officers and suspects, goes too far.

Disclaimer: The content of this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.

Tom Burrell

Tom Burrell

Tom enlisted in the US Marine Corps Reserves in 1987. Following service in Desert Storm, he transitioned to active duty with the US Coast Guard. In 1997 he left the USCG to pursue a position in conservation & maritime law enforcement. Tom is currently a Captain and he oversees several programs, including his agency investigation unit. He is also a training instructor in several areas including firearms, defensive tactics and first aid/CPR. In 2006 Tom received his Associate’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Harrisburg Area Community College and in 2010 a Bachelor’s Degree from Penn State University.
Tom Burrell
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