Videos will be useful in showing Taser use
Cameras attached to Taser electroshock guns inject valuable accountability into their use by Honolulu police.
Honolulu Police Chief Boisse Correa took to heart concerns about the use of Taser electroshock guns by issuing guidelines for their use more than two years ago. He now is to be commended for taking the extra measure of attaching a video camera to each Taser to record the circumstances prompting its use.
Upon beginning use of the Taser in a 2005 pilot program, Correa specified that they be used when a person challenges officers to a fight or to prevent potentially serious bodily injury or against juveniles, pregnant women, the elderly and the mentally ill. He said 500 officers in the police department now are equipped with Tasers and hopes to outfit the remaining 1,600 officers, each to include an attached camera.
The Taser's 50,000 volts of electricity through two wires attached to darts are intended to stun the targeted person, although technically they are not stun guns, which require contact with the person. The auto video recorders are attached to the butt of the Taser and are activated when the Taser's safety is unlocked, running for as long as 90 minutes.
Taser International Inc., the Arizona company that manufactures the gun, maintains that it does not cause death or injury. However, it can shut down the nervous system and has been identified in numerous deaths, although not in Hawaii. The American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii complained that unjustifiable lethal force was used four times during Honolulu's year-long pilot program.
Accountability is needed for assurance that police are using the instrument properly, and Correa said it "brings credibility to the whole system, it enhances the safety of our community and it enhances the safety of our officers."
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