The Chicago Police Department’s use of Tasers has jumped to alarming levels since they rolled out a new program which put the dangerous devices in nearly every officer’s hands. In the year that ended Sept. 30, they had used them on 683 different occasions, up from only 197 in 2009 and 163 in 2008.
As if that isn’t cause enough for concern, the department has determined they will not investigate each Taser usage as they once had, simply because they can’t keep up with the new numbers.
The Independent Police Review Authority says they haven’t received many complaints of misconduct despite the massive jump, so they will only investigate cases where there is an indication of abuse by officers or if the Taser is deployed on a minor or elderly person.
Earlier this year, the department had only 280 Tasers. They increased the number of the stun guns to 660, giving patrol officers access that was once reserved only for sergeants and field training officers. They see the weapons as a good intermediate use of force choice when dealing with non-compliant members of the public.
A Lieutenant with the department states a “mere presence of a Taser…has proven to be an effective deterrent to a subject escalating the incident.” But it seems with this marked increase in usage, officers are not just relying on the “mere presence” of the Tasers.
Of course the police are trained on proper use of the stun guns and there are rules regarding when they can be used. But one wonders, are they using them in place of hand to hand use of force encounters or are they using the Tasers in situations that would have previously not required a use of force at all?
As a citizen it can be difficult to rationalize complying with a police order if you believe you weren’t doing anything wrong. But, even if you believe you are right but the officers are barking orders at you to get down on the ground, for instance, a mere step in their direction could be construed as aggressive action in their eyes and could even warrant the use of a Taser.
Facing criminal charges for an incident with police can be particularly challenging. You may feel like there’s no way you can get a fair shake in the court system. With a criminal defense attorney on your side, however, you can relax a little.
As a defense lawyers, it’s our job to look out for your best interests and ensure your rights are protected at every stage of the process. Contact us today for a consultation on your case.