Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Taser vs. Sword

Truthfully, this article is really more about the importance of alternate levels of force for police officers, and providing a bridge between the always effective "deadly force" of handguns, and the not-quite-as-effective "blunt force" of fists and/or nightsticks. And yet it also serves to show that there are times when foresight just isn't on the side of those breaking the law. But we should probably explain a little of what happened before getting too far off track.

A man in Port Charles, TX, apparently confused and angry from watching recent episodes of "Heroes", decided to chase his son through the streets, wielding a machete. When he was met by police, he switched weapons from a machete to a samurai sword. The police, not wanting to pull firearms on the man, instead pulled tasers and subdued the 300-pounder with electricity. The chief of police, Mark Blanton, is planning on using this incident as justification for a request for even more tasers for his officers, all while refusing to have one of his own, citing his fear of electricity.

The family of the tasered man are, naturally, thankful that a method other than gunshots was used to subdue the sword-bearing father, and have admitted to his history of mental illness. The man himself, of course, faces potential assault charges, as well as a need to see a mental health professional. We do feel obligated to point out that, unless you're on a television program, in a movie, or trapped in a post-apocalyptic world where gunpowder no longer exists, it's probably a good idea to leave swords sheathed, unless you want your mental stability questioned.

Overall, though, this really does showcase that there are options that aren't always being looked at for law enforcement. Far too often, police in this country are forced to rely either on bludgeoning instruments (like fists and clubs), or firearms. If more police can be trained in the proper usage of tasers, and more research can be done into the effects of their use, then a viable new level can be brought into the police's arsenal of tools. Although, we do have a leg up on the British, as their police are forced to rely on blowing a whistle and looking sternly in order to get criminals to back down, before moving to deadly force.

And hey, if we can get tasers accepted within law enforcement, think of the benefits it could have for less-serious crimes. Sure, there'd be the electro-shock junkies that would intentionally try to get tasered, but they're the ones who also wire things poorly in their house on purpose, just hoping to get a little jolt. And, with proper usage of electricity, we could see an end to celebrities unable to keep their garments in the proper place, or knowing when to keep their car parked. And who hasn't thought about filling Paris Hilton with a few thousand volts?

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