News and notes from around town:
• During 2010 the Lawrence Police Department had to use its Tasers on individuals, according to a new report out of City Hall.
The annual report — which has been required by the City Commission since it allowed the department to begin carrying Tasers several years ago — said all eight of the deployments were legal under the department’s policy. But the report said three of the deployments were found to be “slightly outside” of the department’s “usage philosophy.” The department’s policy says Tasers may be used to intervene in situations where violence rises to the level that injury is possible to either the people involved or the officer. But the department, according to the report, tries to use a philosophy that recognizes there are scenarios where a suspect may be actively resisting arrest but the threat of violence does not rise to the level to necessitate Taser usage.
The report doesn’t identify which three incidents were deemed to be “slightly outside” the department’s philosophy. But here’s a summary of all eight times the Tasers were deployed.
- Jan. 21: In the 2500 block of Redbud Lane an officer responds to check welfare call. The subject emerges from his room wielding a sword. He refuses to put it down. Other officers arrive. The subject still won’t drop the sword. An officer used the Taser on the individual once. As the report states, the individual then “immediately dropped the sword.”
- Jan. 23: A patient being transported to LMH via ambulance produces a knife and begins threatening suicide. The ambulance stops at Sixth and Louisiana. Officers arrive. The patient tells officers he is going to kill himself, and holds the knife to his stomach. Then he began “swinging the knife in a stabbing motion against (his) leg.” A Taser was used once on the patient, who dropped the knife.
- March 7: While on patrol at 2330 Iowa near a convenience store, an officer hears shots fired. The officer sees a person with a gun running after a car. Two more officers arrive on scene. A foot chase ensues. Eventually, the person with the gun is cornered in a parking lot. The individual is ordered to show his hands. An officer instead sees him reach instead his jacket pocket. A Taser is then used once.
- April 6: In the 1900 block of West 27th Street, a police sergeant locates a vehicle suspected in an aggravated robbery case. The vehicle flees from the police officer and eventually hits a parked car near 2200 West 26th Street. The passenger in the vehicle attempts to run. The sergeant tells him to stop. When the suspect does not, the sergeant fires his Taser. The Taser probe, however, failed to penetrate the person’s skin. The suspect was apprehended later.
- May 4: An officer attempts to stop a reckless driver at Seventh and New York streets. The driver eventually stops at a dead end at the Lawrence Wastewater Treatment Plant on East Eighth Street. Other officers respond. The driver refuses to exit the vehicle. Officers physically try to remove the driver. A large dog in the car becomes agitated. An officer uses the Taser on the driver once, but the driver continues to resist. A second officer uses pepper spray on the driver, but he continues to resist. An officer deploys the Taser again, but still the driver continues to resist. Additional officers arrive and as a group they successfully remove the driver from the vehicle.
- May 8: Officers respond to a suicidal person at LMH who had deep cuts on his forearm. The patient was deemed by a mental health professional to be a danger to himself and needed to be involuntarily committed to a state hospital. The patient refused and announced the only way he was leaving was if officers shot him. He then removed bandages from his wounds and began bleeding on the floor. The patient announced that he had an “infection blood disease” and “challenged the officers to come get some of the blood disease.” An officer deployed the Taser once, and the man was immediately taken into custody.
- June 2: Officers respond to a domestic violence call in the 1900 block of East 19th Street. A suspect is identified, resists arrest and a foot chase ensues. Eventually, the suspect returns to the trailer house where the chase began. He then grabs his own mother and uses her as a shield between him and the officer. An officer threatens to use pepper spray. Still he hides behind his mother. A second officer gets behind the suspect and uses the Taser once, but the suspect refuses to release his mother. Officers then attempt to physically overpower the man, but are unsuccessful. The Taser is used again, this time with the device directly against his skin. He releases the woman and is taken into custody.
- Sept. 16: Officers arrive at a restaurant in the 3500 block of West Sixth Street to remove two highly intoxicated people from the restaurant. Officers determine one of the individuals is suffering from alcohol poisoning and calls an ambulance. A third highly intoxicated individual arrives on the scene and says he is a friend of the person being treated. He attempts to convince the officer to allow him to drive his friend to the hospital. Officers call a taxi cab for the two remaining, drunk individuals. The taxi cab driver eventually refuses service to the two people because they were being disruptive. Officers tell the individuals to leave the scene on foot. A short time later, officers see the individuals driving a car in the 500 block of Arizona. The car is stopped and the driver flees. A foot chase ensues. The suspect turns and strikes an officer in the head. The officer uses the Taser device, but it is ineffective. The chase continues. The suspect continues to resist and the Taser is used again. The person is then taken into custody.
So, there you have it. Lawrence’s own episode of COPS. The department did undertake additional training late in the year, according to the report. The training highlighted the department’s philosophy of what level of violence warrants Taser usage. All eight people received medical treatment. None was found to have any ill effects other than the normal skin irritation where the Taser probes punctured the skin.
• Lawrence and the rest of Kansas should get several key sets of data next week. The Census Bureau has confirmed that Kansas’ Census data is scheduled to be delivered to state leaders next week. No word yet on the exact day. The data will be the definitive word on just how much Lawrence has grown over the last decade.
• A few North Lawrence workers e-mailed me with a request to find out if a Subway sandwich shop is making a return to North Lawrence. It sure appears one is. Word is that work will begin to reopen a Subway in the Presto convenience store at 1030 N. Third St. An attempt to get confirmation from the new owners of the station, The Pantry chain of convenience stores, wasn’t immediately successful. But others familiar with the plans said Subway has signed off on the location, although it will be operated separately from the other Subway locations in the city.