Friday, December 15, 2006

Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality Demands That Gov. Granholm Not Sign Bill Legalizing Taser Use Across Michigan


CONTACT: Ron Scott

Coalition Urges Governor Not to Sign Taser Bill

12/15/06—The Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality, which has been engaged in investigation, activism and legislative activities regarding police misconduct over the past ten years, reported that it is very concerned about the passage of House Bill 5435, which would allow the extended use of tasers and stun guns to private citizens and security guards. In the past, the Coalition fought successfully to end the consideration of the placement of tasers in the Detroit Police Department.

“We feel that our efforts were vindicated [in that the Detroit Police Department decided not to utilize tasers],” said Coalition spokesperson Ron Scott. “Many law enforcement agencies around the state and the nation have engaged in vicious, unlawful, and barbaric uses of this instrument against citizens. These efforts have caused deaths and spawned millions of dollars in lawsuits against government entities.”

Scott continued, “We are certainly not trying to limit private citizens from purchasing tasers and stun guns, as they already can over the Internet, but we believe that these individuals should register these potentially lethal items in the same way they would a handgun—and ensure that they receive proper training on its use as well as when use of such weapons would be unsafe.

“The passage of this bill by the Michigan House and Senate comes at the end of the legislative cycle. As such, it will not allow citizens who may differ on its advisability to have full participation in the process, and to possibly present evidence which may point to a more reasonable approach to non-lethal restraint efforts. We are also concerned that public hearings with adequate public notification be held before any such legislation is signed into law.

“The Coalition has been involved in numerous situations where citizens have been injured and/or killed by security guards at commercial facilities. And security personnel too often do not receive adequate training to effectively and safely carry out their responsibilities. Taser use puts them in a position of having to literally make life-or-death decisions.

“We don’t need to give private citizens weaponry to use at their own discretion. Instead, in an emergency, they should do what we would do: contact law enforcement.

“Given that Taser International Corporation has had in the past very close alliances with law enforcement agencies in the promotion of their product, we are also concerned about the corporate motivation behind this legislation.

“We are challenging the Governor not to sign this legislation. It does not have a necessary, beneficial, rational or ethical basis for existence. If such a bill is to be considered, we urge that she, within her 14-day review period withhold signature at least until all members of the public can adequately weigh in on this major piece of legislation,” Scott concluded.

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