A new report issued by Amnesty International is recommending that Police Departments around the country either stop using Tasers, or limit their use to situations where guns would otherwise be used. The report, coincidentally titled "Less Lethal Weapons?", which was the title of my feature on Tasers last month, probes the growing use of Tasers as compliance tools around the US, instead of as weapons of last resort, to be used instead of guns in a lethal force situation.
You can download a pdf version of the 130-page report here, which concludes:
Based on the concerns raised in this report, as regards both the safety and the potential for abuse of such weapons, Amnesty International believes departments should either cease using CEDs or limit their use to situations where they can be effectively used to avoid the resort to lethal force or firearms. Electro-shock weapons, which have a high physical impact and cause extreme pain, should never be used as a general force tool.
The report goes on to make two dozen recommendations on Taser use to federal, state and local government officials. We'll give the Portland Police Bureau a few days to digest its contents before seeking comment from the chief and police commissioner before we go to press next Monday.
Update: "This position by Amnesty International is not new," says Brian Schmautz. "The Police Bureau's Training Division is tasked with the responsibility continuing education regarding the use of Taser. Chief Sizer supports the use of Taser consistent with 1051.00 in the Police Bureau's Manual of Policy and Procedure. The Police Bureau does not train officers to use Taser in a deadly force situation."