We have previously discussed the increasing use of tasers by police in circumstances where other avenues were available, including cases involving young children (here and here and here and here and here and here) or the elderly (here and here and here and here). Now we have a case where two Indiana police officers tasered a 10-year-old, 94-pound boy at the Tender Teddies Day Care in Martinsville.
The officers from the Martinsville Police Department responded to a report of an unruly child at a home day care location. Such calls are not uncommon, particularly with so many children with emotional or developmental problems. However, after the police arrived, they introduced tasers at Tender Teddies Day Care as witnesses watched in horror. Even the Martinsville Police Chief Jon Davis has acknowledged that his officers could have avoided using a stun gun on a child and has put the two officers on administrative leave pending investigation.
It seems a prototypical case on the expansion of the use of tasers and stun guns. At one time, police would have restrained the child physically. Now, police seem to use tasers as a first response. Despite these controversies, police around the country seem to view the taser as a weapon to use in the face of people who disobey their orders or represent any type of physical threat, even a child. In some of these cases, the taser appears like an virtual punishment tool when citizens do not comply. There appears little interest in politicians to look at this question and curtailing the use of tasers in the country. The result is a fear from many citizens that they could be tasered if they challenge an officer’s orders or question his authority.
Officers do not taser a child at day care unless they have been trained or convinced that such weapons can be used whenever there is a potential for physical contact. The attitude shown in past controversies reflects a casual and arbitrary use of the weapons — a reflection of the view that such use of force is entirely discretionary with the officer. When lawsuits are brought in even the most egregious cases, citizens often find courts that are entirely unsympathetic or unwilling to review such conduct. The abuse of tasers is part of an expansion of police powers in the United States that is worrisome and threatens to create a general intimidation of the public. That threatens not just to change the relationship of citizens to their government but to create a chilling effect on those challenging police abuse.
Source: NY Daily News
Kudos: Michael Blott