Friday, August 26, 2011

CMPD: We need another Taser review

Posted By on Fri, Aug 26, 2011 at 3:49 PM

Following the death of a suspect after a Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police officer used a Taser to subdue him, the department has put the weapons on the shelf.

Lareko Williams died last week after being hit by a police Taser. His death came one day after the family of Darryl Turner, who was killed in 2008 following a Taser shock, received a multimillion dollar settlement from the company that makes the weapon.

At the time of Williams' death, CMPD took the Tasers off the street for a review. Today, Chief Rodney Monroe released a statement about the findings.

On July 21, 2011, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department began immediately inspecting all of our Electronic Control Devices (TASERS) to ensure they were in proper working order. To accomplish that goal, all ECDs were collected from our officers and personally tested and inspected. This inspection identified a small number ECD’s had minor defects such as batteries and date reset displays; they will be replaced or repaired.

CMPD has also completed an internal review of the department’s policy on the use of ECD’s as well as the training that officers receive on their use. The CMPD continues to believe that TASERS are a valuable tool for police officers and that they ultimately enhance the safety of our citizens by giving officers a viable option to minimize injuries to themselves and others.

However, it is critical that both our officers and the public have confidence not only in the devices themselves but also in the policies and training related to their use. To that end, I have asked the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) to conduct a review of the department’s policies and procedures regarding TASER deployment along with our training program. PERF specializes in identifying best practices related to law enforcement issues and is familiar with TASER deployment policies and training throughout the country. PERF’s review will give us an objective outside look at our policies and training and will help us identify any needed modifications.

I anticipate that the PERF Review will take 45 to 50 days to complete. While that will take us past our initial target of September 7 to complete the review, I believe that the extra time spent on that outside review will result in enhanced confidence in our use of TASERS, both for our officers and the public. We will keep you informed on the progress of the review.

We are also in discussions with TASER International regarding the possible replacement of our current TASERS with a newer model that has some additional safety features. I will keep you updated on the progress of those discussions.

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