back to article US study says Taser cattleprod guns are safe

American medical researchers have concluded that Tasers, the controversial cattleprod-launching stun weapons, are broadly safe to use. The study, funded by the US Justice Department, analysed almost 1,000 cases where American plods meted out electric enforcement, and found that 99.7 per cent of the sufferers were unharmed or …


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  1. Brendan Weir


    Do your testing in a live environment.

    I'll get my chainmail coat

  2. Matt


    If they are going to be used against someone violently resisting arrest and wielding a knife etc., then yes they're a good idea.

    However the fact of the matter is that the police have previous for getting it wrong, and I don't know, shooting an innocent person seven times in the head. So, no not a good idea.

    A friend of mine has got a electro stimulator (pace maker for nerves) and cannot go through airport detectors or hold a cordless phone near the machine (which is implanted under the skin). The manufacturer claims that such things may lead to severe nerve damage or even death. I'm pretty sure that a Taser shot would therefore kill them. So, I don't want a plod declaring that he's violently resisting arrest because they don't like him or feel he's not treating with the appropriately grovelling attitude and then tasering him to death!

    On the subject of dealing with dodgy plods I reckon they need to get the carrot and the stick. I think they need to be reminded to treat the public with more respect but at the same time to be given more pay and better conditions and more respect from the government. So, there you go :-)

  3. Mark

    How to prove they are safe

    For every two-five tazerings, one officer supplied with a tazer, one senior constable one MP or one salesman/manager of the company selling tazers is picked at random and tazered.

    If the salesman/manager doesn't want to be tazered, then their product isn't all that safe.

    If the MP doesn't want to be tazered, they shouldn't be allowing other people to be tazered.

    If the senior policeman doesn't want tazering, he shouldn't be giving his officers tazers.

    If the policeman doesn't want to be tazered, he either won't over use it or won't use it at all.

    If they are all happy that it is safe, then they will be proving their belief by their actions.

  4. This post has been deleted by its author

  5. Hooch181
    Paris Hilton


    "The study, funded by the US Justice Department"

    Cause that makes it soooo impartial!!!

  6. Lewis Page (Written by Reg staff)
    Dead Vulture

    Oh joy - back where we began


    How to prove they are safe - good plan. That would also prohibit the issuing of truncheons. In fact it would probably prohibit the use of anything but mild-mannered debating techniques.

    @Anonymous Coward

    "Safe", compared to?

    Oh, being shot, right. Well, yes.

    Yup. And safe compared to being punched, bludgeoned, maced, tear-gassed, charged by a police horse, or wrestled to the ground, too.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Like everything else, a reasonable sounding argument is used at the start to bring something in, then once it is in, it'll be used outside of the initial justification.

    As a substitute for using a gun then it is fine. As another method to force citizens whom the police consider being uncooperative, to do what they, the police, want; it is abuse. I would be uncomfortable approving such a weapon believing it will not be long before it is used routinely, and someone will then be defending that as ok. That regardless of how safe someone claims it is.

  8. Eduard Coli

    Biased this

    The newer easy to use billy club to silence dissidence from a distance and make yet another defense contractor flush with tax money.

    The article was pretty good but the author and of course the study missed or avoided the fact that the taser can and has killed so it is in no way as benign as the author writes it up to be.

    Please see this and many others:

  9. Andy Taylor


    If they are safe, what's the BOFH going to use now?

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The problem in the UK is...

    ... not whether the Taser is an adequate substitute for a firearm in many situation, is that we are possessed of a Police Force that has a nasty habit of using everything at its disposal to ensure cooperation and blind obedience to whatever they decide.

    I do not have to like the Police, I do not have to respect the Police and I do not have to do what they say JUST because they are the ones saying it (it's the Law we're supposed to obey, the Police are not the Law). Sadly this means that I'd probably be one of those tasered on the grounds that "I was lookin' at a copper funny like" which in court will translate to "resisting arrest". Tasers make it far, far too easy for the Police to "ensure cooperation".

    Oh, and for those that say there are adequate checks and balances against the Police abusing their power - care to name any gross abuse of Police Power that has been adequately punished, if even remotely punished?

  11. Chris

    Re: How to prove they are safe

    I suppose so, and there are already some Chief Constables who have tried being tazering. Clips on YouTube. However, in order to make this a universal principle of putting your body where your mouth is, everyone who is against cops being issued tazers has to spend every Saturday night policing a city centre booze and nightclub cattle market with only fist, boot, truncheon and the British respect for the rule of law to help them. Fair's fair.

  12. Harry Stottle

    Trusted Surveillance...

    Lewis has already mentioned the obvious "solution" - tasercams (or the helmet cams they're already deploying).

    But we need to add a protocol to that. Viz: that any use of the Taser shall be deemed automatically a criminal offence if it is not recorded (and no reasonable evidence exists to prove that the camera was faulty) and that any subsequent prosecution must include the recording so that the court can review the footage.

    If there is no prosecution, the victim must be legally entitled to a certified copy of the footage so that he can, if he wishes, lodge a formal complaint.

  13. laird cummings

    @Eduard Coli

    You've got it backwards - Yup, Tasers have killed. But they kill and maim far fewer than the old standards like chokeholds, beatings, bootings, and so on. They also kill less often than the asthma attack-inducing pepper sprays (which often enough are actually counter-productive to the goal, anyways).

    So how shall it be? A small number of regrettable deaths, or a larger number of deaths, combined with some maimings? Police work is ALWAYS going to have deaths associated with it - it's the nature of the beast. There will ALWAYS be police abuse. Restricting the numbers of tools the police have to use only means that the remaining tools will be used in increasingly inappropriate ways. I, personally, would far rather the police have a continuum of choices, rather than being forced to choose between too little, or too much.

    Amnesty's position on this one is as wrong-headed as it's possible to be. If they have a problem with police misbehavior, they shouldn't be targetting the tools, they should be targetting the bad actors. Get rid or, or reduce the numbers of, bad police, and you'll have far fewer abuses of ALL sorts.

    But that's reasonable and effective, and if done, Amnesty would lose a hobby horse they like to ride in their fundraising parades.


  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    To Anonymous coward...

    ... Police officers are enforcers of the law. If you want to ignore them "JUST because they are the ones saying it (it's the Law we're supposed to obey, the Police are not the Law)." then you will I'm sure be one of the first to feel the tazer. Your comments also show you are indeed uninformed and like to be sensationlist. But hey, if you read the Sun you deserve to be lied to...

    Make sure you come back here to let us know what it felt like to have 50,000 volts coarse through your idiot body...

  15. Mark

    Laird is forgetting

    The police only have the power WE allow them to. Unfortunately, it looks to me like the police now see their power as a right and not a responsibility, hence the tazerings "for not respecting my aithoritah!". Even with guns, stun gas and so on, if enough people are pissed off, the officers are paste if things degenerate too far. So we are policed as far as enough of us allow us to be policed.

    And their forgetting of this is causing many people to rethink what the police means to them.

    Note: I really WOULD like to trust the police and feel I could support them. In the last 15 years I don't feel I can.

  16. Graham Marsden


    > there are already some Chief Constables who have tried being tazering. Clips on YouTube.

    Ah, yes, Richard Brunstrom, who got a very short jolt, a padded mat, a couple of people to support him if he fell...

    Now compare that to someone who, quite legally, declines to obey the demands of a Policeman and gets a full ten seconds zap with the Taser for no other reason than "well, he pi$$ed me off".

    I have no problems with Tasers being used *if absolutely necessary*, but if they start getting used as "compliance devices" as they are in some parts of the USA then we're on a very slippery slope...

  17. Robin Bradshaw

    Arms race

    I predict the widespread deployment of tasers in the uk will spark an arms race with the ASBO yoofs with a sudden fashion for taserproof (tm) hoodies.

    Such fabric already exists like this:

    Or you could just line your clothes with tinfoil and put on your tinfoil hat.

    Ill get my taserproof coat

  18. Mark

    Proof of the pudding

    Chris, if I'm given the power (and pay!) of a police officer on a part-time pro-rata basis, then yes, I will tour town with nothing other than a badge and a word.

    I am willing to put my beliefs to the test. Are they?

  19. Mark

    reread, please

    Lewis, I think you forget that when truncheons are used when appropriate, the policeman is getting a kicking in the meantime. Also, remember that it isn't the policeman getting tazered AND beaten up by the perp, it's 1/2 or 1/5 a tazering (and much less because their boss could be the one getting buzzed, or better even a politician!) and no beating from the perp.

  20. Luther Blissett

    @Mark (of the Taser?)

    "The police only have the power WE allow them to" - are you on some libertarian Planet Utopia fantasy, or just confusing the situation?

    The police only have the power the Authorities allow them. Maybe not as much as some would like, but certainly the power to shoot to kill, and to drive beyond the speed limit, etc with judicial impunity.

  21. Morely Dotes

    A good idea is no match for a bad habit

    Most places in the US, a cop firing a weapon is put on suspension with pay *automatically* while the shooting is investigated. Usually the result is "a good shoot" and the cop goes back to work - but not always. Once in a while the cop is found guilty of unlawful use of force, and many of those cases result in an ex-cop facing criminal charges. All of them result in disciplinary action.

    Institute such a rule for tasering as well as firearms, and cops will be a lot more careful to use their weapons (both lethal and intended-to-be-nonlethal) when it's appropriate, and *only* then.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    The trouble is that the Taser, especially in the UK is handed out to non-firearms coppers. It is not seen as anything like as seriously damaging as a gun, there is therefore much more chance that it'll be used. We have seen this with the CS spray that most (if not all) coppers have these days. In Reading (I seem to remember) a bloke was damn near killed (partially due to allergic reaction) when a copper let off a CS spray far too close to him, because he was drunk and disorderly. The problem is that there were loads of witnesses who said yep, he was drunk and being a bit cheeky but was in no way doing anything to deserve a CS spraying. Would that of happened with a gun? No. (ok, we don't have armed coppers on the streets, but that's not really the point.)

  23. Justin
    Thumb Down

    Firearm myths by people who can't shoot

    What is it with people saying that you cannot shoot someone in the leg ? This B$ seems to be spread by people with either no firearms knowledge or aim so bad they shouldn't be allowed to play darts in a public place never mind carry a firearm.

    As someone who carried a 9mm on my person for several years in a country where self defence is legal. I've also fired many thousands of rounds at all sorts of targets. I can categorically tell you I could hit someone in the legs if they were coming toward me! The target is effectively not moving very much at all except back and forwards slightly in the line of fire. Unless of course the person has a very unusual gait...

    The fact is: A double torso tap is ideal when dealing with someone with a gun and you need to stop them dead in their tracks. (no pun intended) But In most common situations the assailant is armed with something far more ranged than a firearm and they can afford a couple of shots at the legs and IF that doesn't work they can up the ante.

    Sure it's difficult to remain calm, but that's what practice and training are for. If you choke with fear and need to shoot to kill because you "don't have time to think" then that's fair enough but admit it and resign from your firearm duties, don't hide behind lies.

    As far as a limb shot being almost as deadly or crippling as a torso shot... I don't know what the stats are but common sense screams to me that limb wounds must be far less likely to kill than a torso shot. So I can't help but wonder if this sort of nonsense is also propagated by people who can't aim. Who gives a damn if you cripple someone in one limb if the alternative is to kill or paralyse them.

    Off the taser topic I know, but I couldn't help but bite at the firearm comments.

  24. Robert Fleming

    uninformed opinions

    Has anyone here been tased? It's a bit like grabbing an electric fence. It's not especially painful -- it just makes you unable to control your muscles for a second or so. My brother, a park ranger, volunteered to be tased in a (U.S.) police academy, for the demonstration to his class. It's not as bad as everyone's making it out to be. I'd much rather be tased than pepper-sprayed. At least with the taser, when it's over, it's over. With the pepper spray, it takes a long time to wear off.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Oh dear

    Justin -

    perhaps you can also shoot their weapons out of their hands?

  26. Harry Stottle
    Gates Horns

    And I'm still waiting

    for an answer to the question I asked weeks ago...

    If we wore some kind of metallic vest (chain mail would be a bit heavy, but some kind of modern lightweight version of that would fit the bill) wouldn't that both defend against the barbs and short out the tazer?

    I can see a new fashion market springing up before me...

  27. Lukin Brewer

    If you make tazerproof garments...

    they'll pass laws making them illegal. There will be lists of shimmery fabrics that can no longer be worn in public, and others that can't be taken out in the rain, 'cause they fall below the electrical resistivity threshold defined in the Act when they get wet.

    Tazers probably have protection against short circuits - a fail safe with a reset at least. There's always the chance that the conductors will touch, and it would look really bad for the company if the tazer burned out (or melted, or exploded).

  28. Graham Bartlett


    Go sign up as a special constable or community support bod. That's exactly what you're talking about there. Get back to us after you've done a few Friday/Saturday nights and let us know how things are going. In other words, if you want to put your money where your mouth is, then you can go and do it whenever you want.

    As far as "the power we allow them", it's more like "the power the mob in front of them allows them". It really depends whether you want some firm of football hooligans to be brought down by the police, or whether you want it the other way round.

  29. laird cummings


    Oh, no, I'm not forgetting anything of that nature at all. As I said, police abuse exists. It always will - police are recruited from the conmmunity, and the community will alwys have its share of jerks, wankers, and bullies. Appropriate action is to get rid of abusive cops, not to restrict legitimate tools in the hands of *all* officers.

    Police abuse for the crime of 'disrespect of cop' is nothing new, and tasers, or the lack thereof, has nothing to do with it. Abusive cops have used pepper spray, batons, boots, rubber hoses, and pretty much every other tool in their reach (and some they had to create, like broom handles up the bum). If they have tasers, they'll misuse them, too. That said, I still do not see any gain in giving police the option of 'too much or too little.' I want them to have a continuum of force. I also want bad cops *gone.* One does not preclude the other.

    Morely Dotes has an outstanding idea. I whole-heartedly endorse it.

    I've been nailed by electric shock from 12 and 24 volt electric fences, and from 400hz and 5000hz electronics power sources. All hurt like hell *while* they were ongoing, but after effects are minimal, and I'd frankly prefer the jolt to pepper spray or CS (which I have also experienced, in the Service). Given the choice of being shot, or tasered, I'll *always* choose the taser, even with multiple jolts.

  30. Chris Goodchild


    In the article, it mentions giving tasers to untrained cops and that is where the troubles will start. Untraine cops will simply be given guidelines for the use of tasers and if they are only required to follow guidelines, they wont.

    If they are given good training they will at least have some idea of the conditions and reasons requiring the use of a taser. Of course a fair number of cops will still abuse the thing, it's in the nature of people not just cops to apply their personal standards to their work thinking that they know better. But with cops having had formal training there is at least the chance for anyone laying charges against them for unreasonable or illegal use against themselves to have comparisons applied in court based on the training and the actual situation to determine if there is a case to answer on the part of the police.

    I know that when anyone gets a new toy they usually can't wait to try it out and I'm sure the fuzz are no different so anything that can help to make them accountable for any abuse is a good thing.

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