Capt. Greg Meyer (ret.)Less Lethal Issues in Law Enforcement
with Capt. Greg Meyer (ret.)

Horsing around and weapons retention

by Greg Meyer
Sponsored by TASER

Recent headlines about unfortunate Taser incidents remind me of an incident in 1981, just after the Los Angeles Police Department began widespread issuance of Tasers after successful field tests.

Three sergeants were on their way to "Code-7," meaning "lunch break." The sergeant in the backseat was fiddling around with the newly issued Taser. A "negligent" discharge occurred. (In those days we called them "accidental.") The Taser darts struck the driver in the back of the head and the neck. He immediately went down, lost control of the police car, and it crashed into several parked vehicles.

Fortunately no one was seriously hurt, although the backseat sergeant's subsequent paychecks were a little short after the disciplinary system extracted its toll.

Tasers are no different than pepper spray, batons, and other devices in the sense that (1) cops can use them on other cops, and (2) suspects can take them away and use them on cops.

Clearly you have a duty to maintain control of your weapons. And make sure they are not used negligently. And make sure that the bad guys don't get to use them on the good guys. Control of suspects and retention of weapons . . . gotta do it!

Consider the following recent events, reported in the media:

DARLINGTON, S.C. -- Darlington County authorities say a suspect managed to remove his handcuffs and shock a Hartsville police officer with his own Taser. . . . Hartsville Police Chief Tim Kemp says [the suspect] tried to climb in the front seat of the officer's car and grabbed the officer's Taser and shocked him.

Mounties Tasered with own weapon
Two RCMP officers in Dauphin, Manitoba, had one of their weapons used against them on the weekend when a suspect managed to grab hold of a Taser. . . . "During the ensuing struggle with the officers, he managed to get control of the officer's Taser and then deploy it on the officers," said Const. Rob Tuff.

Officer Resigns Following Taser Incident
EAST WINDSOR, CT - A veteran officer charged with tasering a fellow officer in the face, is resigning from the force. [The officer] faces reckless endangerment and assault charges.

    Suspect Shocks Officer With His Own Taser

Obviously these short clips from media stories don't provide the entire picture of what happened. Still, there are some "weapons truisms" in this business.

All of us who carry weapons of any type need to prevent these types of incidents. Respect your nonlethal weapons just as you do your firearms.

No horsing around. No pointing or raising them against anyone you don't intend to use them on for legitimate control purposes. No nonlethal weapons ending up in the hands of your suspect.

No negligence.

No embarrassment.

No kidding.

About the author

Greg Meyer, a retired Captain from the Los Angeles Police Academy, served for 30 years, including eight years as a commanding officer. Greg is a member of the National Advisory Board of the Force Science Research Center, a member of the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) and the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP). He holds the Certified Litigation Specialist credential of the Americans for Effective Law Enforcement (AELE), and is a member of the AELE seminar faculty advisory committee.

Contact Greg Meyer

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