There are far too many people volunteering to get tased these days. You can’t pick up the Savannah Morning News anymore without seeing a picture of some officer or official happily on the receiving end of some recently purchased taser.
Last week, the esteemed daily’s readers were treated to a picture of a couple of area police officers getting tased by colleagues. The choice of photos was odd: As one of us in the office mentioned, both officers appeared to just be getting a good tickle. I guess that was the point.
The Chatham County Commission began this misguided game this past February when County Manager Russ Abolt made the front page getting tased for the cameras.
The message then, as now, was that getting tased is just good, clean fun.
There seems to be a serious disconnect here (pun intended) in terms of sheer news–awareness, not to mention in general empathy. All this cuddly propaganda of your friendly neighborhood officials volunteering to get tased — to show how harmless, even thrilling it might be for your friendly neighborhood cops to tase you and include you in the fun — comes hot on the heels of several recent outrages involving misuse of tasers, both locally and nationally:
• On Tybee Island, three officers resigned and Chief Jimmy Price was suspended after the tasing of a young autistic man.
• In Lumpkin County, Ga., two officers resigned after being caught on video repeatedly tasering a third–grade teacher — essentially using it as a torture device — who ironically had called them to respond to a prowler.
• In Oklahoma, an 87–year–old woman hospitalized and on oxygen was tased by cops who claimed she acted in an “aggressive” manner — while in her hospital bed!
• In Massachusetts, an off–duty cop got into an argument with another off–duty cop — and tased him.
• And of course there’s the taser–related incident involving a young Oakland man who was shot in the back point–blank while handcuffed and held down by other officers. The shooting officer avoided a straight-up murder charge because he insisted he thought his Glock was his taser!
Are you detecting a pattern yet? If you do, you’re one step ahead of your local daily paper.
Tasers are serious business. They’re not toys, they’re not funny, and there are far too many of them being used in the wrong ways.
Until the track record of their use is cleaned up from such egregious incidents of misuse, tasers should be investigated, not glorified, by the media.