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Tasers Receive High Marks

WCPO-TV News, Cincinnati

The use of tasers by Cincinnati Police received high marks Tuesday from police leaders, Mayor Charlie Luken and some city council members.

The first three months showed the devices has significantly reduced police ''use of force''.

What police said impressed them most about using the taser devices, which deliver a 50,000 volt shock; is that in a number of cases, all officers had to do was "threaten" to use the tasers to get arrest subjects to follow police orders.

Police department statistics for the first three months of 2004 show tasers reduced the number of times police had to use force.

Cincinnati Police said tasers have been used 69 times. In 57 of those incidents, the taser''s 50,000 volt shock got subjects to successfully comply with police orders.

Twenty-six times it was just the threat to use a taser that got subjects to follow police commands.

"It saves, it''s causing compliance through the threat of the use of the tool. It''s the best way to reduce subject injuries and officer injuries," said Lieutenant Colonel Richard Janke, Cincinnati Police.

Those figures were enough for Mayor Charlie Luken to applaud use of the taser.

"One of the reasons I recommended this technology is, as you will recall, so there would be less hand to hand combat between police and citizens, resulting in injury to police and resulting in injury to citizens," Luken said.

However, one council member had concerns about how often the painful tasers were being used on minority men.

"So here we have 84 uses of the taser and out of 84 uses, 61 of those were on male blacks? Is that correct?" said Chris Smitherman, Cincinnati Council.

"If I read this correctly... yes... that''s correct," Lt. Col. Janke said.

The police chief said, from what he''s seen, tasers were used only when appropriate.

"I guess probably, you can see it in the homicide rate and the violence that''s occurring there. Who is the assailant that''s reported to us and who the victims of the crime have been," Streicher said.

The taser use numbers come even before all Cincinnati Police officers have been trained and given tasers.

Police said, in some cases, officers who didn''t have tasers were still able to threaten to use them and get unruly subjects to follow their orders.

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