Exporting Insanity: Dutch Police Get Tasers

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.

Tasers: Unnecessary and Deadly Force

Another unarmed teen has died after being Tased by police.

Brett Elder, 15, from Bay City, Michigan died after police used Tasers to break up a fight between him and another teenager.

Disturbingly, Brett is already the second teenager to die after being Tased this year. In January, an unarmed 17-year-old boy in Virginia died after police responding to a minor street incident shocked him in his apartment. As of today, the total number of deaths after the use of Taser guns in the U.S. has surpassed 334 since June 2001 and it keeps rising. Perhaps what’s most unsettling is that in over 90% of those cases, the person shocked didn’t even have a weapon.

The news of these teen deaths comes soon after the unveiling of a new Taser weapon, the Taser Shockwave, capable of shocking entire crowds at once.  Clearly, this money could have been better spent conducting rigorous safety testing and research into why so many have died after being shocked with a Taser.  Amnesty International has called on U.S. law enforcement departments to cease using the weapons, pending further safety studies, or to strictly limit their use to a weapon of last resort.