Your feelings on Police and Tasers

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Your feelings on Police and Tasers

First I'm going to ask that my question be taken seriously. I'm not trying to troll [I've been honest and straight forward with my posts to date] so please save the derailing comments until post 50+ or something. This is a serious question.

A comment last week started the mice in my head spinning on their little wheel. A poster commented about how the RCMP were issued new and deadly weapons such as the taser and submachine gun. [In addition to their current 9mm sidearm] Tasers seem to be generally viewed like red lightsabres from "the left." Tasers more dangerous than 9mm pistols?? Their Evil evil weapons designed to toture and cause suffering and I don't know, somehow help harper control Canada. I have an idea but I don't fully understand why the hate on for tasers.

Let me explain my point of view. I'm always vounteering for stuff, I'm a really curious guy. During riot taining we were asked who wants to be pepper prayed? I put up my hand. That sucked. 30 minutes of being fucked up where I sat on my butt trying to wash my eyeballs like mad man. More training some time later- tear gas. We walk into a closed hut and when we smell tear gas [CS gas] we put our gas mask on. Im inside a room heavy with a cloud of tear gas. My curiosity gets the better of me so I take off my gas mask and try to breathe. I immediately drop to the floor start choking and gasping for air. I'm helped [carried] outside and I begin to barf and have snot all over my face- in a world of hurt or 10 minutes. Lastly I'm at work and a police swat team is there doing some training. Some of the training includes tasers. Naturally I ask to be tased and they say sure. I figure I'm tough enough to shrug off the effects. I'm not of course. I drop to the matt loosing control of my legs and arms, letting out an ignoble unnnnnnnngh. A few seconds later I am up and walking on my own again. Out of the three experiences getting tasered was by far the easiest and least painful. I don't mind the tear gas that much, I never want to go near pepper spray again.

Now putting firearms into the equasion- I've seen people shot. Some killed some wounded. Some wounds seemed small and not that big of a deal, most others were epicly gross and looked very traumatic.

Lots of people want police to get rid of tasers. My feelings on the matter are I would MUCH rather be tased than shot. I don't know the stats off hand but I'm pretty sure if you tasered 1000 people 99% of them would have no lasting health issues. Maybe even higher. Yes I know some people DO die because of pre existing heart conditions and being tased causes damage or death. but whats the stats? Out of the numbered of tasered victims how many have died?

What about the last 1000 people who were shot by police. [With hollow point bullets I'll add which are much more deadly that what the military s allowed to use]. I don't think 99% of the 1000 people shot will be okay. In fact I would wager more than half of those shot probably died a very painful and traumatic death. 75%? From a technical perspective,

Tasers cause much less suffering debilitation and death than handguns if you compare them both, right? So now I'm asking myself why are tasers so bad? Why do people hate them?

Here are some answers I came up with.

1. Because of the less lethal [Or practically non-lethal] damage they cause someone, police officers are much quicker to taser someone rather than shoot them. You wouldn't [can't] shot someone for giving you a hard time or just beig a disruptive asshole. Can you taser them for that? Maybe [probably, without knowing the police use of force wheel].

2. Less paper work. Police employ tasers more often [perhaps too often?] because it's not seen as a big of a deal as it is with firearms and like I said above there is a much lesser chance of hurting someone. Basically police being lazy. Instead of trying to talk someone down they just go for the taser.

3. The capability to use a taser as a torture device. I've heard of americans using rifles for barrel thumping in Iraq which I guess could be a form of torture but in Canada [Say north america] you don't really see firearms used to for torture by the police. [Mind you I am sure there are some instances of sexual assault using them?]

Tasers however are perfect, for lack of a better word, for torturing someone. I remember reading in the news a young girl out west who was tortured with a taser. Makes you sick. How do you fix the taser problem? Take them away period? What does that leave cops with, a choice between pepper spray or a 9mm pistol? More training for police officers so they employ negeotiation tactics more? Make using a taser the same amount of paperwork/investigation as would happen if they fired their service pistol?


Wow sorry about that mess. I forgot about the first post being unable to edit and when i previewed the post everything looked fine, what a mess!

Could a mod delete this and I will repost it and try to tidy it up?

Maysie Maysie's picture

Hey PraetorianFour. I added some spaces and paragraphing but didn't touch the text itself. 

A reminder to everyone to please leave the OP blank with a few dots or something, then post your thoughts in post #1, which you can edit.


As to your questions, P4, here are my random thoughts.

Tasers, like guns, are a penis/power substitute. Not at all as satisfying as throwing tear gas into a crowd. And during the Quebec City protest my friend was tear gassed and had extensive damage to her central nervous system and was hospitalized for almost a year.

I suggest you not guess at stats, and actually have them before assuming. Otherwise just state your opinion, that's fine. 

And finally, as many of the previous anti-taser threads have shown, when someone is ready to be tased, prepared, and they are in a "safe" environment, and it's under a "training" context it's not as all the same effect as someone who is being physically intimidated by the poiice, isolated and frightened, etc etc.


I'd suggest not bothering, as it would remain a mess no matter what was done with it.  Yeah, I always hated that, snot nosed hacking, vomiting individuals running for dear life out the door, letting my precious gas escape in the process, all because they can't tolerate a few whiffs.  Ahhhh the smell of CS in the morning.


CS gas must be a lot stronger than when I was in. We had to simulate eating under a gas attack.


Someone decided it was a good idea to bring CS grenades one day, instead of the usual stovetop pellet version.  Thick as pea soup in that hut it t'was.

Maysie Maysie's picture

Is it wrong to say I welcome the disgusting thread drift? 

One the one hand, P4, I'm taking you at your word that you're sincere. But being a lefty site, in the most general way, you can assume that most of us are opposed to the use of violence by the state against others. Whatever methods that violence takes. Cops without tasers or guns or nightsticks can always kick and punch. And they do. Daily.

On the other hand, the topic is distasteful, so why not drift with even more grossities? I believe that question's been answered.




Hey PraetorianFour.  Here at work we're testing out a behaviour modification programme which involves a good swift kick to the balls with a steel toed workboot.  PM me for a convenient time for you to drop by.


Once, during a training I got to do with a SWAT team when I was doing mobile crisis work, a cop from Vancouver who also happened to be a psychologist showed us a film of some fancy technology which they had tried to develop over the years to harmlessly disable a person.  Two which stuck in my mind were a device which fires a net at a person, and one which enveloped them in some sort of sticky goop.  Both were found to be impractical for different reasons.  Seems like they ended up with the tazer.  The problem with the tazer, is that it isn't non-lethal.  I have heard proponants call it 'sub-lethal', or 'less-lethal'.  Trouble is, being killed is kind of a binery thing, you either are or aren't.  The training was obviously terrible, and police were using tazers for pain compliance and just 'cause they felt like it.  I don't see training stopping that.  That speaks more to the basic mentality of the user of the tazer.


Like Maysie said, in real life situations where you might argue a tazer is needed, is where it may be most dangerous.  The cop from Vancouver BTW, was a big proponant of talking to people to calm them down.  At least where I live, the SWAT people have better training in that than most cops.


The problem isn't the tasers themselves, it's the loose screw holding the trigger.

Maysie Maysie's picture

oldgoat wrote:
 Two which stuck in my mind were a device which fires a net at a person, and one which enveloped them in some sort of sticky goop.  

Um, was this organization called "The Scooby Doo Company of Cool and Funny Ways of Trapping People For Big Laughs" ?



oldgoat wrote:

 At least where I live, the SWAT people have better training in that than most cops.


You can't imagine (ok: probably you can) how reassuring it is to me to read that, oldgoat. (And now I know to stand on my rights and demand the SWAT team).


P4, I'm sure that babble has threads from the past (BnR does) that also document the fake scientific studies that Taser Inc have run on in their sales promotions to police forces. The only studies they have (last time I checked) turn out to have been done by a semi-disguised business spin-off of Taser Inc (or whatever they call themselves). In other words, the "scientists" the police have been listening to are corporate pimps. 


As Maysie says, you should actually check your stats before you guess at them from personal experience, and among them you'll discover that there has been no serious testing of tasers done, probably for the obvious reason that the medical experts who would be required to comment on such tests would refuse to be involved in them for ethical reasons.


This was a for real, and I saw a film of a trial with the product.  It was a big unweildy thing that looked like a cheap prop from a '50's science fiction movie.  Didn't work for varions reasons, but it will probably appear in some version on the shelves at Toys 'R Us someday.  Can't let all that expensive R and D go to waste.


I'm sure skdadl, that when they hear it's you, that's who they'll send.

Snert Snert's picture

I've seen similar in an interesting documentary on non- or sub-lethal weapons.  I suppose one advantage of the goop or the net would be that they're kind of big and in one case, messy, so I somehow don't see cops using them on someone who refuses to sit down or what have you.  Not to mention, what good would a net really do?  The doc also touched on other alternatives, like beanbag guns and water cannons, and one thing the doc suggested was that pretty much none of the non-lethal weapons were 100% non-lethal.  Pretty much anything you do to disable someone has some non-zero potential to kill them.  Sadly, one of the biggest "selling features" of tazers is that there's not that much that's any better.  And ya, talking is nice too, but you still need a next line of defense. 


As someone who's stood at the pointy end of a knife with nothing but talking, I can tell you that talking is is more than just nice.  Don't underestimate the power of engaging someone then listening to them. 

Snert Snert's picture

I'm not dismissing it outright, but I would say that you stood there with talking AND LUCK.  If buddy wasn't in the mood for chin music, and if all you had was fancy words, you could have ended up with a blowhole in your back like a whale.  I guess I'm just saying that if the talk had the potential to be supplemented with, say, the goop gun, you've got that extra layer.


Snert, I read your post more for style than content.  (you come across way better that way)  Have you ever considered writing in the cinema noir genre?


However, I didn't just stand there with talking and luck, I stood there talking with a certain temperment and acquired skillsets.


Not everyone put on the spot has those acquired skillsets. How long did it take you to acquire them?


oldgoat wrote:

As someone who's stood at the pointy end of a knife with nothing but talking, I can tell you that talking is is more than just nice.  Don't underestimate the power of engaging someone then listening to them. 


Agreed! completely :)

The same happened to me - I talked about Jesus

(and I'm not even Christian!)


I agree Oldgoat it is all about training police in deescalation techniques.  The taser is too easy to use as a non-compliance instant punishment tool.  Our police are not supposed to be able to punish without a trial. If there were not a myriad of cases were police used the taser inappropriately with dire consequences the arguments in its defence would be sounder. 

In Vancouver I was astounded that a use of force instructor from the Justice Institute was arrested for beating up a "brown man" with two of his police buddies.  If he is the person training police on how to deescalate no wonder people get tasered without good reason.  Policing has to be about engaging respectfully with citizens not autocratic police control or we do live in a police state.



Not everyone put on the spot has those acquired skillsets. How long did it take you to acquire them?




Well let's see, I started moderating four years ago,....


oldgoat wrote:
Well let's see, I started moderating four years ago,....

The knife incident occurred after you started? Hmmm. Toronto area babbler's party? Must say it's a tad perplexing with the often stated assurance that meeting babblers in person lends itself to improved civility.


Maysie wrote:
Is it wrong to say I welcome the disgusting thread drift? 

If you mean welcoming a discussion of CS Gas in lieu of the jollies of tasering, I'd say yes, something is seriously wrong.



don't much like either one..

Timebandit Timebandit's picture

The main problem with the Taser is that it isn't considered as "serious" a weapon as a handgun.  Or perhaps regarded as more a tool than a weapon?

Many years ago, I did human relations role-play with RCMP recruits at the RCMP's Depot Division.  The focus was on learning the techniques that oldgoat referred to in order to avoid having to use their weapons and to resolve a situation with as little physical force as possible.  They didn't have Tasers back then, and I don't know what the current human relations training is now, but I have to wonder whether giving police officers Tasers has made the talking-down less relevant to the officer, or to allow impatience to shorten up the time frame in which an officer gets physical - as it replaces the having to get as physical with someone with being able to knock them down without risking injury to yourself. 

In other words, I think the way Tasers are being used makes it too easy to skip over the talk and peaceful resolution where it can be achieved.  As a weapon, a Taser should not be used anywhere you wouldn't formerly have had to draw a gun, the paperwork and investigation should be the same.


I'm really impressed with the replies thank you. [Oldgoat you can't threaten me with a good time!]


It looks like we kinda agree on the basics. Tasers are too convient for police to use as a blanket response.


I don't like the idea of getting rid of tasers because more police will inadvertently op for going for their service pistol but something should be done to make using tasers more serious.


oldgoat wrote:
As someone who's stood at the pointy end of a knife with nothing but talking, I can tell you that talking is is more than just nice.  Don't underestimate the power of engaging someone then listening to them.

That sounds like it was a tense situation. When my sister was a rookie cop, she and her partner arrived at a  domestic call at an apartment complex. Big guy comes running out half dressed. He points them to some commotion second floor of the building behind him then walks away on foot. They get inside, and after talking to a few people realized that the guy who just left had used a great big knife to gut the man from stern to stem and who was laying on the floor dying. Drug deal went badly.

In the UK, the cops patrolling football games and pre-game celebrations have decided that fewer cops placed on the streets not pounding batons in their hands infront of barricades and looking a lot less menacing tends to work better than the other way. Something about big cops looking like trouble tends to bring out the hooligan in people for some reason.


Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

I'm surprised 'pepper spray' hasn't been discussed as an alternative to more deadly tasers.


When someone is tasered is it standard that they are brought to the hospital?  How about pepper sprayed?  Pepper spray was the worst for me, really fucked me up and I was a mess for half an hour. 


Also it's a chemical agent like tear gas, I wonder if tasers are legally easier to employ?

Cueball Cueball's picture

I think less cops in general. More social workers. SWAT teams for gun calls. Less emphasis on confrontation. It's a pretty safe job overall, no need for all the guys to wander around armed. 90% of the time cops come after everything is over, and they are there to take statements only.We don't need armed uniformed cops for every single witness interview.

We need to get rid of a bunch of petty misdermanours, like minor drug offenses and so on. This just gives cause for confrontation. The job needs to be rethought entirely. Somehow police have to be encouraged to care less about bulshit crimes, look towards encouraging them to resolve issues of conflict, as opposed to "enforce", and "bust". More emphasis on management, and less of enforcement.

More focus on important stuff. There is a lot of cruising around aimlessly looking for trouble.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

Yes, pepper spray is extremely painful - but is it ever lethal the way tasers can be? I thought getting rid of tasers altogether and relying on pepper spray instead might be a way for the cops to go. (I'm just guessing, as I have no expertise whatsoever on the subject)


Boom boom,


As far as I know, part of the issue is range and the other is accuracy. Pepper spray can spread and get many other people including the cop.  And it can still kill (actually any of the tools can kill)

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

Tasers are now considered sissy weapons, compared to the new generation of "non-lethal" torture equipment that's now becoming available:


Tasers that elicit excruciating spasms in one person at a time? Foam pellets that send an entire crowd fleeing in agony? Pfft. So 2011. Where non-lethal weapons are concerned, the future’s all about sonic microwaves that can make swimmers puke mid-stroke, and aircraft with laser beams that can redirect an entire enemy plane mid-flight.

Or, at least, those are the deepest, darkest wishes of the Pentagon agency responsible for non-lethal weapons.

The military’s Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate’s “Non-Lethal Weapons Reference Book,” leaked online last week by, [108-page .pdf file] is a terrifying treasure trove that describes dozens of ways — some already in-use, others in development or still mere fantasy — for military and law enforcement officials to make you wish they were using the real bullets.



Pepper spray is not a disabling weapon so I don't see how it could replace the taser. Police want something that will make someone easily handcuffed and transportable. Tasers do that job well.

To put the taser in the same category as a cops' sidearm on the wheel of force would just mean the taser would never get used, as I can't see a cop reaching for the taser in a situation he/she has determined nesessary use of lethal force.

Tasers are not high tech weapons. They achieve the same result as if a cop were to force someone to stick their toungue into an electrical socket. The method of delivery is kinda high tech I guess, but it's simply controlled electrocution. It's a bit like the Phaser on Star Trek except the switch for setting it to "stun" or "kill" is internal on the device. The taser decides.

But as bad as tasers are, actually specifically because they aren't 100% reliably non lethal, they nesessitate some kind of restrained use by police. We need to fear the day when Taser Inc., say a hundred or two years hence, develops completely 100% non letal weapons that render us simply stunned/unconscious for a period of time. A true Phaser. Better not even THINK about looking at a cop funny then, you'll wake up naked in a cell with your last memory being telling some cop you have every right to be on this street cell phone camming some drug bust underway.

Hurtin Albertan

How did I miss this beauty of a topic?

The police should have some sort of "less lethal" option but whatever you give them will get abused.  I'm sure more than one police night stick was used to intimidate and/or beat on innocent persons.  Take away their clubs and they will use flashlights.

I'm going to throw my vocal support behind the net guns.  I got to see one up close once, albeit a version designed for four footed targets and not for those with two feet.  basically a sawed off rifle with some interesting attachments on the muzzle end.  Maybe a bit big to carry but I'm sure you could scale it down for use on humans and still make it effective.


Stevebrown wrote:
Pepper spray is not a disabling weapon...

The trouble with pepper spray is, like tasers, its risks are not clearly defined. For one, they are not standardized, consising of different strengths. And people do die, especially people with respiratory conditions like asthma or emphysema.

Depending on brand, an OC spray may contain water, alcohols, or organic solvents as liquid carriers; and nitrogen, carbon dioxide, or halogenated hydrocarbons (such as Freon, tetrachloroethylene, and methylene chloride) as propellants to discharge the canister contents.(3) Inhalation of high doses of some of these chemicals can produce adverse cardiac, respiratory, and neurologic effects, including arrhythmias and sudden death.

Hurtin Albertan

Not to mention that certain delivery methods for pepper spray or other irritant gasses can have unintended consequences beyond the target individual or individuals.  I think the police kind shoots a stream of fluid rather than a cloud of gas but still I'm sure it'd be easy enough to miss and spray nearby innocent bystanders and such.

Thank you for not criticizing the net guns, which I just can't say enough good things about.  If there was ever an idea that had no down sides it's net guns, I am baffled at how such a wonderful problem solving device is not being put to it's fullest potential.


*editted to add link