portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article portland metro

community building | human & civil rights | police / legal

Portland Police Get, Use 50,000 Volt Tasers

Chief Kroeker announced Monday that the Police Bureau has begun using "tasers"- 50,000 volt dart guns. Tasers are potentially lethal and have been condemned by Amnesty International. The decision to begin using tasers was made with no input from the public or Portland's flawed "Independent" Police Review Division.
PORTLAND POLICE DEPLOY POTENTIALLY LETHAL ELECTRO-SHOCK DEVICES Chief Kroeker Ignores Principles of Community Policing

On Monday, June 17, Portland Police Chief Mark Kroeker announced that the Portland Police Bureau is now equipped with tasers, small electro-shock devices which are supposed "less lethal" alternatives to guns or pepper spray. Kroeker seems to have made the decision without seeking community input. It appears Kroeker did not even consult with the highly-touted new civilian police review system, the Independent Police Review Division (IPR). Tasers are at best an unknown danger and at worst, two-time killers, according to human rights group Amnesty International.

A 1998 report on Police Brutality and Prison Abuse in the USA ("United States of America: Rights for All") describes the taser and its cousin the stun gun as devices which "jolt" a suspect with 50,000 volts of electricity. The book reports "In July, 1996, a 29-year-old woman, Kimberly Lashon Watkins, died after being shot by police with a taser in Pomona, California. Just five months later, Andrew Hunt, Jr died when Pomona police reportedly shot him several times with a taser after he had been handcuffed."

Not enough independent research has been done on the short-and long-term effects of tasers to be conclusive. However, the September 1, 2001 medical journal the Lancet cited three of 218 people hit by tasers who died, possibly connected to the use of the devices. The Lancet also articulated the need to study "injury threshholds" and the effects on nerves, adding that two people with a history of cardiac disease went into cardiac arrest within five minutes of being hit with tasers.

Members of local police accountability group Portland Copwatch question whether the taser has been fully and independently tested for safety on people with specific ailments (such as heart conditions or epilepsy). The group also worries that once the new devices are readily available, police may misuse them, as they have with other weapons like pepper spray and "beanbag" guns--each of which have been used against unarmed civilians including peaceful demonstrators.

"We are very concerned that the Chief is adding to the police arsenal with no community input," said Kristian Williams of Copwatch. "He seems to have forgotten his promise to leave L.A.-style policing in L.A."

Copwatch also raised the issue of officer training and noted that other "less lethal" technologies have proven quite deadly. They pointed to the deaths of Brian Penton and Richard "Dickie" Dow in 1998 as probably related to the "less lethal" OC Pepper Spray (the manufacturer paid Dow's family $10,000 earlier this year), and the use of "beanbag" guns which is being curtailed nationally in the wake of numerous deaths caused by those supposedly "non lethal" weapons (LA Times, June 3).

For more information or interviews please call Portland Copwatch at 503-236-3065.

homepage: homepage: http://www.portlandcopwatch.org
phone: phone: 503-236-3065
address: address: PO Box 42456 Portland, OR 97242

i assure you the chokehold won't be necessary 18.Jun.2002 09:36

the jheri curl kid

you'd think the arm bar/chicken wing hold (while the *suspect*--ah hell, criminal--is in handcuffs no less) would be sufficient for the storm troopers.

the knee on the neck seemed pretty effective as well, why new (*non-lethal*) weaponry?

some pigs also employ kicks to the groins of males.

but a pig can always go with the classic choke-hold.

(though, they are always allowed to use their guns, maybe even encouraged to do so)

taser gun in action pic, from taser.com 18.Jun.2002 13:04

ed

taser gun in action pic, from taser.com
taser gun in action pic, from taser.com

taser target zones, from manual 18.Jun.2002 18:33

ed

taser target zones, from manual
taser target zones, from manual

Universality of symbols of Evil 18.Jun.2002 18:56

photoshopping rebel boy

I went to the Taser International website <  http://www.taser.com > to check out the weapon the Portland Police will be using, and their logo reminded me of something...
Universality of symbols of Evil
Universality of symbols of Evil

Wisconsin state troopers at the USCM 18.Jun.2002 21:48

phyrros the dyskeptic phyrros@dyskeptic.com

Check out how the Wisconsin state troopers dressed up to greet the protesters at the US Conference of Mayors in Madison. All this just to arrest an IndyMedia journalist!
 link to madison.indymedia.org

scary... very scary.

Taser = bad news 19.Jun.2002 11:36

Maxzwell

Ok, so I guess my black hoodie won't protect me against that crazy shit.

DOES ANYONE KNOW HOW TO PROTECT AGAINST THIS BULLSHIT?

(electric-proof overalls or what?)

thank you
anarchist thinkin electrocution=bad

whatever happened to?... 21.Jun.2002 12:16

ken

whatever happened to thw old fashioned billy club? sure it's easy to go overboard but at least if you do go to far the pig that used too much force has a strong legal precident of being accountable for his actions...