Shockwave: Taser's Latest in Taming Dissent

Taser International is busy promoting a new product.  It’s called Taser Shockwave, meant to cast something of an electroshock net over an area.  It belongs in my “You’ve Got to Be Kidding” file along with Taser International’s leopard-print MP3 player that doubles as a taser and their employment of Playboy Bunnies for promotion- but those are stories for another day.

This week, Taser International showcased their latest in potential human rights violations to your local police chief at the International Association of the Chiefs of Police annual gathering.  I wish I could have been there to talk to those officers about our latest statistics.  Since the summer of 2001, Amnesty International has been tracking the deaths that have occurred after police have used the taser weapon- we are at 320 and counting.  In over 90% of those cases, the person shocked didn’t even have a weapon.  And now Taser International wants police to have the ability to spray tasers over a crowd, hitting individuals, all at once.

Aside from taser’s questionable track record, the frightening trend in police crackdowns on dissent should make us particularly wary of the latest in taser technology.  Forget disastrous preventative detentions at the RNC and tear gas at WTO protests.  There is something new for protestors.  Here is what Taser International has to say about it:  With the push of a button at a stand-off distance of up to 100 meters, the Shockwave unit deploys multiple standard TASER® cartridges that are oriented across an area arc. Full area coverage is provided to instantaneously incapacitate multiple personnel within that region.

Development of weapons that allow police to tase en mass is not good news.  This flies in the face of good law enforcement.  Police shouldn’t be shocking entire crowds.  Given the problems with tasers, especially among vulnerable groups like the mentally ill, police need to assess the appropriateness of taser use on particular individuals and should only elect to use the taser in dire circumstances when lesser alternatives aren’t available.

Coming off of years of crushing police responses to dissent, giving departments the technology to take down multiple people with just one pull of a trigger is a dangerous idea.  I wonder what the chilling effect will be on public dissent.  Would you be willing to go to a protest knowing that police on the scene were armed with Taser Shockwave?  I wouldn’t bring my daughter, which means that I might have to stay home.  Maybe that’s the point.

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28 thoughts on “Shockwave: Taser's Latest in Taming Dissent

  1. You make an excellent point, Dalia. I find this idea far scarier than the "traditional" methods of "crowd control" that have been used against protesters in the past–water cannons, fire hoses or tear gas. At least with those we know what ill effects to expect, and how long they will last.

  2. It is scary because, to a large extent, this technology is not vetted and the research on vulnerable populations is glaringly absent. Worse than that, we can't always identify the individuals with latent conditions that make them more vulnerable to a taser shock. Take police officers who were seemingly healthy and submitted to the shocks under controlled environments with medical supervision. Many times there's not a problem, but sometimes there is. Police officers around the country have sued Taser International because they experienced everything from strokes and heart injuries to spinal fractures and soft-tissue damage that they attribute to being tased. Even under the best of circumstances, being shocked with a taser is a bit like playing Russian roulette. One never knows what underlying vulnerabilities are present and we shouldn't have to curb our right to protest (or even be an innocent bystander) to avoid finding out if we are part of a vulnerable group.

  3. You make an excellent point, Dalia. I find this idea far scarier than the “traditional” methods of “crowd control” that have been used against protesters in the past–water cannons, fire hoses or tear gas. At least with those we know what ill effects to expect, and how long they will last.

  4. It is scary because, to a large extent, this technology is not vetted and the research on vulnerable populations is glaringly absent. Worse than that, we can’t always identify the individuals with latent conditions that make them more vulnerable to a taser shock. Take police officers who were seemingly healthy and submitted to the shocks under controlled environments with medical supervision. Many times there’s not a problem, but sometimes there is. Police officers around the country have sued Taser International because they experienced everything from strokes and heart injuries to spinal fractures and soft-tissue damage that they attribute to being tased. Even under the best of circumstances, being shocked with a taser is a bit like playing Russian roulette. One never knows what underlying vulnerabilities are present and we shouldn’t have to curb our right to protest (or even be an innocent bystander) to avoid finding out if we are part of a vulnerable group.

  5. Pingback: Law and Disorder Radio » Blog Archive » Law and Disorder November 17, 2008

  6. Pingback: Tasers: Unnecessary and Deadly Force | Human Rights Now - Amnesty International USA Blog

  7. I would agree with the idea of taking down violent crowds, but with no positive

    feedback coming from tasers, why not just shoot a net over the crowd, without

    the need to be shocked with 50,000 volts, something as simple as someone

    smoking a cigarette or even the shock of not knowing that your about to be

    zapped, could end someone's life, not to mention the physical and mental

    trauma experienced afterwards. It makes me afraid to think that an officer

    could think that your potentially offensive, zap and kill you, and not even get

    repremanded for it.

  8. Let`s get off our fucking asses and do something!!!! Fuck the system, everything is wrong and I“m sick of it!!! Anyone with me?

  9. I would agree with the idea of taking down violent crowds, but with no positive

    feedback coming from tasers, why not just shoot a net over the crowd, without

    the need to be shocked with 50,000 volts, something as simple as someone

    smoking a cigarette or even the shock of not knowing that your about to be

    zapped, could end someone’s life, not to mention the physical and mental

    trauma experienced afterwards. It makes me afraid to think that an officer

    could think that your potentially offensive, zap and kill you, and not even get

    repremanded for it.

  10. Let`s get off our fucking asses and do something!!!! Fuck the system, everything is wrong and I“m sick of it!!! Anyone with me?

  11. A great way to do something is to support Amnesty International by taking action or donating…they are doing great work!

  12. A great way to do something is to support Amnesty International by taking action or donating…they are doing great work!

  13. My 3 year old dog was tazed by police several years ago. She was cornered in our back year and barking at him, so he pulled out his tazer and shot her with it at point blank range. Within weeks she developed a severe seizure disorder that eventually killed her. I almost would rather the coward had just shot her. These weapons are extremely dangerous and clearly are not a non-lethal alternative to firearms.

  14. My 3 year old dog was tazed by police several years ago. She was cornered in our back year and barking at him, so he pulled out his tazer and shot her with it at point blank range. Within weeks she developed a severe seizure disorder that eventually killed her. I almost would rather the coward had just shot her. These weapons are extremely dangerous and clearly are not a non-lethal alternative to firearms.

  15. Pingback: Taser lance une mine anti-personnelle (bis) - BUG BROTHER - Blog LeMonde.fr

  16. Shockwave is better than a batton, better than a kick, better than a punch and much better than a dog bite.

    Shockwave will stop agressive persons that put the streets on fire and break everything around.

  17. Shockwave is better than a batton, better than a kick, better than a punch and much better than a dog bite.

    Shockwave will stop agressive persons that put the streets on fire and break everything around.

  18. Pingback: Sarkost’zine » Blog Archive » Taser lance une mine anti-personnelle (bis)

  19. @Francisco

    I do not think I understand what you are saying, Shockwave will not stop police…

  20. @Francisco

    I do not think I understand what you are saying, Shockwave will not stop police…

  21. this is what the constitutions is for.this is summary punishment no different than spanking a child.we the people should not stand by and let goons electrocute and mentally torture our 72 year old grandmas.the only time a taser is justified is the same situation you would pull youre gun.these specifically chosen people(not to smart or to dumb)go into little roid rages (a lot of cops do roids)when a citizen of the u.s dares to stand up for theyre rights.we have the right to a judge jury and trial,then if we are guilty society punishes us.we now are being summarily punished(no different than the boy whipped in singapore,but he had a trial)by some goon hiding behind a badge.wake up people limit police power.in sacramento our police have the l rad and a mini predator drone to protect us from the boogyman of the cia bin laden.VOTE INDEPENDENT THE REPUBLOCRATS ARE ALL ONE PARTY.

  22. this is what the constitutions is for.this is summary punishment no different than spanking a child.we the people should not stand by and let goons electrocute and mentally torture our 72 year old grandmas.the only time a taser is justified is the same situation you would pull youre gun.these specifically chosen people(not to smart or to dumb)go into little roid rages (a lot of cops do roids)when a citizen of the u.s dares to stand up for theyre rights.we have the right to a judge jury and trial,then if we are guilty society punishes us.we now are being summarily punished(no different than the boy whipped in singapore,but he had a trial)by some goon hiding behind a badge.wake up people limit police power.in sacramento our police have the l rad and a mini predator drone to protect us from the boogyman of the cia bin laden.VOTE INDEPENDENT THE REPUBLOCRATS ARE ALL ONE PARTY.

  23. 55 YEARS OLD. NO POLICE RECORD. RESPECTFUL TO POLICE.
    YET FOUND MYSELF BEING PUSHED BY A 22 Y/O COP WITH 4 OTHERS BACKING HIM UP. ALL WAITING FOR ME TO PUT MY HANDS UP AND SAY STOP. NO DOUBT IT WOULD HAVE BEEN "STOP RESISTING" AND i WOULD HAVE BEEN TAZED. THEY ALREADY RAN MY NAME, KNEW I WAS DOING NOTHING BUT CATCHIN A 5 AM BUS. I PRAY FOR THE DEATH OF THESE ORLANDO POLICE OFFICERS. THE GUY ALSO MADE IT CLEAR IF i WAS IN "HIS" AREA i WOULD BE ON THE FLOOR "BY NOW".
    & HIS CO WORKERS WILL BACK HIM UP.. COWARDS.. SAD OTHER COPS FEEL AS IF THEY NEED TO GO ALONG WITH THIS. THANK GOD I AM WHITE OF I WOULD BE HURTING. THAT WAS CLEAR.. MY CRIME.. ASKED BY A RUDE COP WHERE I WAS GOING . I HELD UP BUS PASS AN SAID THE BUS. TAKE THESE THINGS AWAY.. LET THEM EXPLAIN MARKS ON THIER VICTIMS

  24. 55 YEARS OLD. NO POLICE RECORD. RESPECTFUL TO POLICE.
    YET FOUND MYSELF BEING PUSHED BY A 22 Y/O COP WITH 4 OTHERS BACKING HIM UP. ALL WAITING FOR ME TO PUT MY HANDS UP AND SAY STOP. NO DOUBT IT WOULD HAVE BEEN “STOP RESISTING” AND i WOULD HAVE BEEN TAZED. THEY ALREADY RAN MY NAME, KNEW I WAS DOING NOTHING BUT CATCHIN A 5 AM BUS. I PRAY FOR THE DEATH OF THESE ORLANDO POLICE OFFICERS. THE GUY ALSO MADE IT CLEAR IF i WAS IN “HIS” AREA i WOULD BE ON THE FLOOR “BY NOW”.
    & HIS CO WORKERS WILL BACK HIM UP.. COWARDS.. SAD OTHER COPS FEEL AS IF THEY NEED TO GO ALONG WITH THIS. THANK GOD I AM WHITE OF I WOULD BE HURTING. THAT WAS CLEAR.. MY CRIME.. ASKED BY A RUDE COP WHERE I WAS GOING . I HELD UP BUS PASS AN SAID THE BUS. TAKE THESE THINGS AWAY.. LET THEM EXPLAIN MARKS ON THIER VICTIMS