The New York Civil Liberties Union has just issued a report that claims police departments throughout the state are misusing and overusing tasers.
The report analyzed 851 taser incidents from eight police departments including the Syracuse Police Department. Researchers found that in 60 percent of the cases, tasers were used when there was no active aggression or risk of physical injury. In 15 percent of the incidents, tasers were used on people who were handcuffed or already restrained. And "more than a third of taser incidents involved multiple or prolonged shocks."
The New York Civil Liberties Union claims there is a disturbing pattern that puts lives at risk and calls upon law enforcement agencies to adopt clear and effective policies.
Our Jim Kenyon talked with Onondaga County District Attorney Bill Fitzpatrick who defended the use of tasers by local police departments.
Bill Fitzpatrick said in an interview, I'm very familiar with the training that goes on with the Syracuse Police Department. My office participates in some of that training. It's very intense, I think people should understand when a police officer uses a taser he's justified in using a more deadly type of physical force, perhaps a baton or a gun, by using a taser they're not doing that."
The Syracuse Police Sergeant Thomas Connellan said in a press release that they have received numerous requests for comment about the report by the New York Civil Liberties Union concerning use of tasers by police. According to Sgt. Connellan, the Syracuse Post-Standard had a copy of the report before it was made available to the public and would not hand over the advanced report because it was embargoed by the New York Civil Liberties Union.
"The Syracuse Police Department will have no comment on this report until we are provided with an official copy of the report and we have had time to thoroughly read and examine the information contained in this report," Sgt. Connellan said.