Is fear of lawsuits and management’s scrutinization the motivation behind the decline of some police agencies use of Tasers? Management’s micro-analysis appears to have begun with the Braidwood commission’s conclusion in June 2010 that, “The use of the conducted energy weapon (Taser) on Robert Dziekanski (2007 death at Vancouver Airport) was not justified.”
Has that report changed suspect apprehension?
Three Vancouver Police officers and a police dog were injured recently in a violent suspect capture. A Vancouverite called 911 to report seeing his assailant standing outside his building. There was an outstanding warrant for 49-year-old Dean Rackham, whose criminal record dates to 1989 with multiple convictions for assault.
A K-9 handler and “Shack” arrived first only to be attacked by Rackman who overpowered Shack and the handler. Law enforcement back-up arrived and six VPD members subdued Rackman. Three officers received injuries. If this incident reflects the current officer trepidation with Taser usage, then law enforcers have reverted to brute force to overpower their assailants.
Is this sound police defensive tactics and apprehension techniques? RCW executives observed a dash camera training video. A member pulled a vehicle over for erratic driving. The driver got out of his car and prepared to attack the officer. Stepping back and drawing his Taser, the member said, “Sir, I am not going to fight you. Get on the ground now or I will Taser you.”
The driver ignored the officer’s commands and advanced with his fists up.
The member Tasered the 350-pound drunk who went down immediately. Seconds later when the driver woke, finding his hands handcuffed, he said, “Oh man, that really hurt. I should have listened to you.”
No one was hurt, albeit the suspect had a tingling feeling for a while, and another impaired driver was removed from the highways. How does an officer choose the level of force to respond to a threatening situation?
Share your insight with us at www.ruralcrimewatch.com.
Jonathan McCormick and Denny Fahrentholz are columnists from Rural Crime Watch.