When is it appropriate to use a stun gun?

A Philadelphia police officer used a stun gun last week against a teenager who ran onto the field during a Phillies game. In Minnesota, a complaint alleges that a man was shocked with a Taser after shouting at authorities in the Sherburne County jail. Today’s Question: When is it appropriate to use a stun gun?

  • After several high-profile taser abuse incidents in Canada that generated intense public concern, and a new awareness of a phenomenon we refer to as “usage creep”, our national police force – the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) – was finally forced to admit in 2009 that there are risks associated with the deployment of tasers and they emphasized that those risks include the risk of death.

    Last week, the RCMP significantly narrowed the rules and announced that from now on they will, among other changes, use tasers only if a person is “causing bodily harm” or if there are “reasonable grounds” to fear that he or she “will imminently” cause harm. It is anticipated that this policy will have a trickle-down effect and before long all Canadian police – national, provincial and muncipal – will be forced to follow suit.

  • bsimon

    It is appropriate to use a stun gun when your other option is to shoot. A tool that was supposed to be a non-lethal alternative when lethal force is justified has turned into a tool for submission.

  • James

    If a trained user of a Tazer has a job to do and the individual is not cooperating. Let them take a ride with Mr. Tazer. It is allot safer for everyone than a wrestling match or a 10mm diameter hole.


  • Gordon near Two Harbors

    Using a Tazer should be an option any time someone resists arrest or displays violence.

    The shock from a Tazer is a helluva lot safer than taking a bullet.

  • jane

    I believe when it is necessary. You need close proximity to use one so I am sure there would be the fear of eminant danger. Pretty self explanitory. All Officers take a risk and I feel this is a better way to deal with that moment then a gun because of the close proximity.

    There is always going to be the concern of abuse of power but I don’t see that in our Officers.

  • Steve the Cynic

    Gee, I’m surprised no one has suggested using Tasers on lawmakers who want to raise taxes, or as a way to get T-Paw to be reasonable!

  • glenn anderson

    The tazer has taken on the role formerly held by the billy club when used as to subdue an uncooperative individual. The very idea of using force to punish behavior rather than prevent someone from harming self or others (including the police officer) is out of bounds, and is a form of assault.

    What if police were issued knives instead of tazers? Would it be okay for knife wounds to be inflicted in order to subdue an uncooperative prisoner? Just because the weapon is supposed to be non-lethal doesn’t change the nature of the act.

  • smaland45

    Taser is and should be used when a subject will not comply to verbal commands and if an option, with in mind to officer safety, empty hand control techniques have failed. In the case of the young man at the Phillies game if officers simply could not catch him on the field I would feel that useing a Taser to temporarily incapacitate him to aid in apprehension would be warranted. In the case of Salaad Mahamed being Tased in the genitals in Sherburn county it was an unfortunate accident caused by Salaad Mahamed himself for refusing to obey a direct command to be on his stomach to ensure that a Corrections officer is not injured upon application of restraints. I personally have been Tased multiple times up to five seconds which it is all Taser is disigned to last with a pull of trigger. I have had no adverse affects to my health. I have also Tased at least a half dozen Officers with the same effect during training. I have never had to use my Taser in a half decade it has been on my duty belt. Taser saves lives of officers and suspects and deceases potential for injury to all people involved in physical altercations. It is the best tool officers have to aid in apprehension today. Is it perfect, no, is it 100% safe and effective in every application? No, nothing in this life is 100%.

  • Lauren

    I think it’s ridiculous to use potentially lethal force in a situation where the person is unarmed and clearly has no intention of harming the officer, like at the Phillies game. If the officer was close enough to use the Taser, he could have just grabbed the teenager or tackled him. I also believe simply shouting at a police officer while in custody and clearly not a threat is not cause for inflicting an electical shock. What’s next? Tasing jaywalkers?