A new report from the City of Chicago independent Police Review Authority, which investigates police misconduct cases in the city, has found that incidences of TASER electronic control device (ECD) use by Chicago police officers increased by nearly 350% over the past year in the wake of the department’s decision to more than double the number of ECDs carried by its officers. The department claims its decision was based on “increasing officer safety” and “defusing trouble.”
In March, the department decided to increase its supply of TASER brand ECDs from 280 to 660 and began putting them in every patrol officer’s squad car. Prior to the increase, only sergeants and field training officers were allowed to carry ECDs. As a result, Chicago police officers used ECDs an incredible 683 times in the 12-month period ending September 30, 2010. This compared to 197 times in 2009 and 163 times in 2008.
More troubling than the increased use of ECDs is the fact that Chicago’s Independent Police Review Authority has said it will no longer investigate every use of a TASER ECD, claiming that their growing caseload is overwhelming the short-staffed office. Instead, it will only investigate ECD use “if allegations of misconduct are made, serious injury or death resulted, or a minor or senior citizen was targeted.”
Clearly, the decision to increase the availability of TASER ECDs to all Chicago police officers creates an environment in which rampant abuse is inevitable. So long as police officers are trained that TASER ECDs are non-lethal and they are permitted to deploy ECDs in nearly any situation including when dealing with non-violent, non-threatening individuals, the death toll from such devices will continue to rise.
TASER + Death + Injury + Attorney