USA – Urbana, Illinois: Increased police tasers not a necessary solution (2014-05-01)

Published on May 1 2014 by admin

[[SUMMARY / COMMENTS: The Urbana Police Department does not currently have access to tasers. At the Urbana City Council meeting on April 28, many citizens, including the local NAACP chapter, opposed the Police’s request for tasers. Editorial: “Tasers are a very reactionary method to crime versus a preventative method, such as mental health care for example, and these preventative approaches to crime would be a far better solution in terms of where to allocate money.”]]

Illinois Daily Editorial

At the Urbana City Council meeting on April 28, city officials listened to the Urbana Police Department’s request to soon carry Tasers, in addition to the pepper spray and standard firearms they are already permitted to carry.

The presentation — made in partnership with the University’s Police Training Institute, which already uses Tasers — was followed by a large number of citizens voicing their opinions against the use of these weapons. Because of citizens’ specific concerns as well as some of our own, we question the necessity and appropriateness of the increased number of Tasers.

At the city council meeting, Patricia Avery, president of the Champaign County branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said “electronic Tasers are not nonlethal weapons, they are less lethal weapons,” indicating that they have potential to kill — and they do.

According to an Amnesty International report, more than 500 people have been killed by Tasers since 2001, proving that these weapons can have a serious negative impact. This is another reason why we believe local police should not be carrying them. If people are being injured and killed by Tasers, it seems they can cause similar consequences to firearms. Since police already carry these, there shouldn’t be an additional need for Tasers.

Another problematic statistic is that African-Americans make up 13.6 percent of the United States population and constituted 41 percent of all Taser-related deaths in the United States from 2003-13. This only reinforces the concerns of the Champaign County branch of the NAACP, and it is worth taking local citizens’ uneasiness into consideration.

Not to mention, the current system is functioning smoothly enough that it doesn’t indicate a need for additional weapons. We feel police officers should stick to their regular practices, which already include carrying pepper spray and standard firearms. The department should continue to practice more de-escalation techniques rather than arming their officers with more weapons.

Continuing to use current equipment would also cost much less than purchasing new Tasers. Urbana Police Chief Patrick Connolly expects each one to cost $1,700, leading to a total cost of $26,000 for the department.

Tasers are a very reactionary method to crime versus a preventative method, such as mental health care for example, and these preventative approaches to crime would be a far better solution in terms of where to allocate money.

With so many members of the community in opposition over the possibility of adding Tasers among many other concerns, we do not believe this is an initiative the Urbana Police Department should continue to consider.

http://www.dailyillini.com/opinion/editorials/article_e7202f8a-d0b5-11e3-a86a-001a4bcf6878.html

 

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