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Md. Report Calls for More Taser Restrictions

Md. Report Calls for More Taser Restrictions

The Frederick News-Post via YellowBrix

December 23, 2009

Two years ago, a 20-year-old died after a Frederick County sheriff’s deputy shocked him with a Taser. Now, a state task force is recommending that Tasers be used in fewer instances and that law enforcement track their use more closely.

Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler created the Task Force on Electronic Weapons after a string of Taser-related problems, including the death of Jarrel Gray on Nov. 18, 2007. The task force report, released Dec. 17, makes 60 recommendations that largely focus on training, use-of-force, reporting and investigating Taser discharges, and monitoring usage data.

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The report’s first recommendation, which Frederick County NAACP president Guy Djoken called the most important, is that the community should be involved in crafting Taser policies.

Law enforcement agencies “should, and have the responsibility to make sure (community groups) are involved in the process,” he said. “As we move forward, we need to make sure the legislative body of the state understands this very well.”

Djoken said he investigated the county’s first Taser discharge at a public school, involving an 18-year-old senior at Tuscarora High School in 2007. As he talked to parents and teachers, no one seemed aware that Tasers could be used in a public school. He said the community needs to understand the Taser regulations and help shape them if they are to be effective.

The task force also recommended that officers not only be certified and recertified in Taser usage, it specified that training should emphasize that a Taser is “less-lethal weapon, and not a non-lethal or less-than-lethal weapon.”

Djoken said the Frederick and Maryland chapters of the NAACP, as well as the Maryland chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, had stressed this point all along and were pleased to see it incorporated into the report.

Whereas people are careful with guns and regard them as lethal weapons to be used only in dire circumstances, Djoken said officers were much less likely to consider the effects of using Tasers, which can also be fatal under the right conditions.


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