Today, Holland starts a one-year trial of arming police with Tasers. This sounds like a familiar story, but here’s the twist: The Dutch police don’t want the them. According to Dutch Public TV, the Federal Police issued a statement documenting their objections to using a weapon so rife with problems.
And why should they want to use this weapon? The controversy surrounding Tasers is well-documented. Between July 2001 and August 2008, Amnesty International studied more than 334 deaths that occurred after police-use of Tasers. So many of the deaths were needless. Police frequently used Tasers inappropriately, especially considering that in well over 90% of the cases, the person on whom the Taser was used did not even have a weapon. Medical examiners have cited Taser as a primary or contributory cause of death in at least 50 cases. And disturbingly, in far too many cases where people died after being shot with police Tasers, the cause of death is listed as a homicide.
The police in Holland got it right. While Dutch police and concerned citizens try to fend off the American Taser export, perhaps we can import something from Holland where policing is concerned: common sense.