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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

Barry Kissin, a Frederick lawyer who worked with Djoken in the aftermath of the two Frederick Taser cases, faulted the report for not putting more blame on Taser International.

“The report also states that ‘training materials provided by the manufacturer of these devices e tended to significantly understate the risks associated with [Taser] use,’” Kissin said. “The report stops short of referring to this ‘understatement’ as unscrupulous fraud for the sake of maximizing sales. I believe an appropriate recommendation would be to terminate all business with Taser International and to demand refunds.”

Maryland Policing

The task force report outlines a variety of conditions under which a Taser should not be used, recommends that reports be filed any time a Taser is aimed or discharged and discusses the importance of maintaining comprehensive data that could be used to show patterns in Taser usage.

The emphasis on Taser usage data serves to put personal responsibility on the officers possessing Tasers, as well as comparing entire departments to their peers in other states.

Uniform data is not tracked throughout the state, but the task force did request some figures from the law enforcement agencies. One if its findings was that 16 of 21 agencies that responded were more likely to use Tasers against black residents than white or Hispanic residents. The Frederick County Sheriff’s Office reported that 24 percent of people its deputies shocked with a Taser were black, whereas only 9 percent of the residents are black.

The task force also looked at existing Taser policies from around the state. Of 29 Taser-related policies the group thought should be in place, the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office only has five currently in place, the lowest in the state. Howard County Police scored the best, with 21 of the policies already in use.

Frederick County Sheriff Chuck Jenkins said he had not read the report and would comment on it once he had the chance to read through its recommendations.

Frederick Police Chief Kim Dine said he had not personally read the report, but that his staff would review and recommend possible changes to the department’s Taser policy. Though he is open to suggestions, Dine said the current Taser policy was based on best practices from top groups around the world, such as the International Association of Chiefs of Police, and was drafted with the help of the Police Executive Research Forum.

“I think we all want the police to have proper tools e and use the tools we have in the proper way,” he said.

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