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Should officers in Douglas County be issued Taser guns?

Asked at Massachusetts Street on November 18, 2004

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Photo of Akiko Imakawa

“No, absolutely not. I just don’t think of Lawrence as a city that is violent enough to require Taser guns. I don’t think that there are all that many situations that would call for using one.”

Photo of Jeff Besougloff

“Yes, they should be. It’s better than shooting people.”

Photo of Caitlin Standish

“No, I don’t think so. The person may have some medical condition that the police are unaware of.”

Photo of Holly Carnell

“Absolutely not. I think the police should try to be more personable. Riding bikes is a good start. Taser guns are a step in the wrong direction.”


Haymaker 13 years, 5 months ago

Can we just skip the tasers and get light sabers?

bangaranggerg 13 years, 5 months ago

I could name off a couple of Lawrence Police that shouldn't even be allowed to carry whiffle bats.

badger 13 years, 5 months ago

I'll be happy to coordinate. Let me get to my home 'puter and I'll kick up a yahoo or gmail listing and post it back here.

Hong_Kong_Phooey 13 years, 5 months ago

I've never posted on this before, but this was a topic that I just couldn't sit by and read.'ve got to love Lawrence. The only bastion of radical Liberalism in the state of Kansas.

On to the topic at hand. Tazers. Do I think that Tazers should be issued to the police in Lawrence? Hell yes I do! Some people have been a little too busy smoking the peace pipe and singing "Give peace a chance" to notice that the crime rate in Lawrence is not what you would expect from a sleepy little college town. Right now, at this very minute, we have three people sitting in the Douglas County jail that have either been convicted or are awaiting trial for Murder. Methamphetamine cooking and useage are the biggest drug problem in the state. Granted, the problem is a little bigger in the western half of the state, but it still exists here. On any given night you can hear an average of about 8 - 10 calls for Battery (fighting). You can probably hear an additional 8 - 10 calls for domestic battery in one of those same nights. The statistics that somebody threw out earlier only include the stuff that was actually reported. Kind of like an iceberg, the number of crimes that go unreported because of reasons such as the victim not wanting to file a report would likely triple those numbers.

Police DESERVE the ability to defend themselves without having to get in contact with the suspect. It seems that virtually all of the discussion here has revolved around whether or not the person getting tazed was presenting a serious threat to anyone else OTHER than the cops trying to deal with them. What about the health of those that are running toward danger while you all are running the other direction? If it's a choice between getting into a physical fight with somebody or tazing them, taze their arse!

The majority of Officer deaths do not occur as the result of some major crime happening, or a shootout, or even car chases. The majority of Officer deaths occurs in "low risk" arrests such as when arresting somebody for shop lifting. The suspect realizes that they're about to go to jail and they start to fight. Just like you all, suspects are well aware that cops carry guns. These suspects try and wrestle the cops gun away and then shoot them to DEATH with their own weapon. A tazer would likely be able to aid in that situation. I can't give specifics because each situation is different and fluid.

Oh yeah, the age range with the highest number of cop killers is 18-24 year olds that do not have a prior criminal record. Hmm...sounds an awful lot like a significant portion of the Lawrence population.

Until you've walked in their shoes, don't tell them what they should or should not be equipped with.

badger 13 years, 5 months ago

Sorry it took me so long. My webforum crashed and I've been handling that for a few hours, plus I had to go to KC for an errand.

We are the Lawrence Journal World Coffee Meetup Group. I hope LJWorld doesn't mind me using their name. If they do, I'll be happy to change it but I wanted some way to designate this group as separate from a general Lawrence group. The link to the page is It should walk you through registering, but if it doesn't, contact me at datalorax (at) yahoo (dot) com (I punctuate sneakily to defy spambots) and I'll help you out with it or just post here if the whole link doesn't work. You can also find it by going to, choosing, "Find a group", choosing, "Communities" then "Coffee" (Sorry, Fangorn, but there wasn't a 'cocoa' community and their setup requirements are a little odd!) then entering the ZIP. Our first meeting was set for the first Sunday in December, but that was just tentative and I can change it as needed.

Hope this works for everyone.

Punkin 13 years, 5 months ago

Given the history of the Lawrence Police Department, and their proven tendancy to use uneccessary force, distributing these new weapons to them seems like a bad idea.

Perhaps, instead of spending our hard earned wasting tax dollars on Tasers, we could use the money to train Lawrence police officers how to more effectively defuse conflict in a non-violent manner.

Ron Olin, the Chief of Police, should spend more time monitoring the actions of his officers and spend less time seeking funding for new, unneccessary weapons.

Hi_Jinks 13 years, 5 months ago

I'd have to say that Jeff's response is about right. I think tasers are far more practical (and life saving) when dealing with some rowdy drunk swinging a baseball bat or some knife wielder---and using "live ammo", though certainly an option, isn't completely necessary.

Okay, folks.....I wasn't going to say any more than that, but I can't help myself! I must say more!

Question: First, read Holly Carnell's response. Now tell me (honestly), does her response sound like the kind of thing that a certain poster on this site would say?---I think most of you regulars out there know who I'm talking about. And that's all I'm gonna say! I'm not gonna name names and then get some "indignant retort" later in the day. I trust that many of you know who I'm referring to!

JHAWKGURL 13 years, 5 months ago

Those who say NO....maybe you should spend one day in the life of a police officer....not just the Lawrence Police but just as a police officer anywhere....the chances of killing an individual with a taser is way less than the chances of killing an individual with a gun. There are and WILL be times that force is needed....the officers just need to be trained to know when the right time to use them is and HOW to properly use them with out going over board.

ber 13 years, 5 months ago

First, once again, LJWorld - you've already asked this question on 5/20/2004!

Second, the possibility of injury to another person from a taser is minuscule compared to the threat they pose on officers. If you research your facts, Tasers are not harmful at all. The person is temporarily inhibited. When the shocks subside, they are COMPLETELY NORMAL AND FUNCTIONAL!! Most officers who have been certified have been tased themselves. They know what they are doing.

What are the other alternatives? Pepper spray? The use of pepper spray can inhibit the officer or innocent bystanders if it is used in a closed area or a windy day - or can rub onto the officer if the person continues to attack the officer. How about a baton? That requires very close contact with the assailant. How about a gun?! Seems like quite a threat.

So, yeah - you idiots, let's certify police in the "pretty please - stop" method of law enforcement.

Give the officers the tools that they need!

Punkin 13 years, 5 months ago

Force may be needed at times--I'll agree that is true.

However, I just wish the LPD could learn to identify those times and exercise some judgement.

They have a nasty tendancy to use heavy handed tactics. Giving them Tasers will only increase this abuse of power.

If you want to learn more about the history of the Lawrence Police Department, and their Chief, Ron Olin, check out these links:

ber 13 years, 5 months ago

OK, so of those 5 links, only 1 sites police "brutality" - the notorious Dole protestors are simply press whores - they're protesting just to protest - they don't have any other message. I'd be willing to let the police stand by and take care of them myself.

The Sevier case was a tradegy - but what you fail to mention is that he had a knife and was being threatening. PERHAPS if officers had tasers in 1992, this would have been prevented.

In another link, if I found someone had done something to my food just because of who I was - I'd confront them too.

Here's a little tip about police officers - if you do what they ask - they'll be nice. Threatening officers in any way (screaming, shoving, gesturing, etc) tends to make them mad. Wouldn't it you?

What exactly would you suggest the police do in these cases? No guns, no spray, no taser, no baton. What's left? Rubber bullets or bean bag rounds? - they tend to cause injury. Foam? - that tends to get on other people by the way and can be very chemically irritating. Maybe they should throw their bullhorns at the crowds.

OR - I just had a great idea. I use a squirt bottle on my cat - that seems to work. Maybe that can be implemented.

lunacydetector 13 years, 5 months ago

i say let them have tasers. anything that is non-lethal and subdues a suspect is better than an officer having to use a bullet.

nicegirl 13 years, 5 months ago

I am the wife of a law enforcement officer. My husband puts himself in harms way everyday to try to keep this city as safe as possible. When he goes to work, I want to know that he has every possible tool that he may need to come home safe at the end of the day. Luckily, he has never shot anyone or had to use excessive violence. If a tazer will save his life and the life of the criminal can be saved by being tazed instead of shot, then most definitely. I drea everyday the possibilty of someone coming ot my door to say my husband dies during a call because he wasn't equipped to protect himself. If an officer can't protect themselves, they cannot protect you or your family.

pike 13 years, 5 months ago

I think EVERYONE should carry a tazer.

craigers 13 years, 5 months ago

If a police officer using force and is accused of "police brutality", then the person probably deserved the beating. People try to push police officers as much as possible and sometimes they go over the edge. Nobody is ever wrong or guilty because there are always others out there worse than they are. Maybe we should actually take part in the day of a cop and see what it is like. Give the cops what they need. I say if we had tazers maybe there wouldn't have been excessive force on the protesters, the cops could have just tazed them all and we could've just had a pile of protestors. Now that is what I would call a peaceful protest.

nicegirl 13 years, 5 months ago

Punkin: In regards to the Sevier case, it is a tragedy. God bless the family for their loss. However, you cannot use the website posted by the family of the victim as a valid example of police brutality. It is completely biased. The only people that know the truth about what happened are the victim and the officers involved. No one else.

Unfortunately there will probably be instances of unnecessary use of the tazer guns. I do not agree with the police in Miami using them on children. In most cases, an adult officer should be ablt to over take a child without resorting to violence. But, the misuse of a tazer is far better than the misuse of a gun. Luckily, most officers are good people who follow the regulations and this wont be an isuue anyway.

Libcon 13 years, 5 months ago

I condone no violence whatsoever. Taser guns should be abolished along with all other types of weaponry. Guns are bad. If we start tasering people who knows what's next. Bazookas on the police force or grenade launchers.

What is Lawrence turing into, Iraq?

nicegirl 13 years, 5 months ago

Libcon: I don't know why I am even responding to your stupidity, I guess because this is a topic that is very dear to me. Even if our police force did not carry weapons, the criminals would still be getting guns on the black market. The criminals would have free reign and no one could stop them. Even you cannot possibly think that is the best solution. The police are not going to "start tasering" people. In all reality, the guns will probably get very little usage as Lawrence does have a low crime rate for it's size.

badger 13 years, 5 months ago

I think tasers will increase the number of lawsuits against the police department.

A taser, as a 'non-lethal' use of force, is likely to have a lower threshhold of use than a gun, so it will be used more often and in situations where it's less apparent that an officer was endangered or a suspect was dangerously noncompliant.

If there's more use, under conditions that seem 'less necessary' to the outside observer, there will be more people who claim they were tasered unnecessarily and sue. The article says that Tasers are under consideration if the department finds the funding. Will they find funding for the lawsuits, too?

I myself have had no direct bad experiences with the LPD. I've personally found them to be courteous, friendly, and reasonable, but I've seen them react badly, overreact, and seriously lose control of volatile situations in which I was not directly involved. They do need better conflict training and better training at gaining control of situations without using the Ulysses S. Grant method of overwhelming them with sheer oppressive numbers.

OBob, when's the last time we had a crazed meth head or PCP addict? How often do the officers have situations where people are noncompliant in a manner that merits the use of force but does not merit the use of lethal force? Are the Lawrence Police currently encountering a lot of situations in which a Taser is so significantly better than all their available options that they can justify the expense of equipment, training, and maintenance? I'd need to see some hard numbers to accept that the LPD needs to spend this money on Tasers more than it needs to spend it on training.

remember_username 13 years, 5 months ago

I am not convinced that tasers are as safe as they are said to be. Of course the manufacturer is going to claim that they are completely safe to avoid any litigation. But then again niether are nightsticks, chokeholds, nor pepper spray. I can't think of any truly "safe" way of physically subduing a person who presences an imminent danger to self or others. Therefore I see no increased harm in providing an alternative restraining tool.

The issue will come down to training and procedure. The excuse that being pushed around or yelled at will make an officer mad "wouldn't it you?" is a poor one. A properly trained officer should not let their emotions get away from them. Nor should "peaceful" protesters shove and curse at the police for doing their job.

In fact these last few weeks (and months) have indicated to me that our emotional state is getting uncontrolled and closer to the surface. The country is more polarized than I can remember and the arguments back and forth are, in general, emotional rather then rational. Or maybe, I'm just getting old.

Libcon 13 years, 5 months ago

I believe stongly in my opinions even if they are not the norm. The world, and Lawrence for that matter, would be much safer without guns. Didn't anyone here see Bowling for Columbine?

ms_canada 13 years, 5 months ago

does anyone out there know for sure, do the London, England bobbies still not carry guns? Do they carry tazers? anyone? fangorn, you fount of knowledge?

badger 13 years, 5 months ago

Uh, Libcon?

Speaking for the sane liberals of the world, please don't use anything Michael Moore said after 1999, especially Bowling for Columbine, as fact.

The movie's been debunked, thoroughly, by the left and the right. The scenes were staged, the interviews scripted, and some of the things in his 'documentary' just never happened. Google "Bowling for columbine debunked" and you'll find the pages. It's a very well-crafted work of fiction, but it is fiction.

There are valid arguments for gun control, though I don't agree with them. Perhaps you could use those, as they at least come from reputable sources. But please, please, don't tar us any more with Michael Moore's brush. He's done more to hurt the left than to help it in the last five years.

ms_canada 13 years, 5 months ago

Just read the story in ljw about the U of K hockey team. Can i go off subject. I (from the frozen north) was quite pleased to learn that. In a very early post i mentioned in replying to something bob said that i was not a hockey fan. That was part untruth. The only hockey games that i ever attend are when my grandson is playing. Some of their games are also televised and i do watch those also. It is such a thrill to see him score a goal. He plays in the Western Hockey League and travels sometimes to Portland, Ore., Everett, Wash. and Seattle. as well as Saskatchewan and British Columbia. This is his second year with the team. He has now earned 2 years of university tuition paid for by the league. He is 18 yrs. old. I have a question. If anyone knows. Do the non-university teams in a league offer the fellows university tuition down in your country? This so off subject, so please forgive me.

Reader 13 years, 5 months ago

You Know, This Reminds Me Of An "Andy Griffith" Episode. Where "Barney Phife", (And We All Know Who That Is, In Our Own Little Mayberry) Felt The Need For The Motorcycle With The Side Car. Just Because The Other Cities Had Em' We Should Have Them Too! I'm Still Waiting For "Our Gomer Pyler" To Start Running Up And Down Mass St. Chasing Someone And Yelling "Citizens Arrest! Citizens Arrest!" For Some Jaywalking Or Making "U" Turns, Which We All Know Is And Will Always Be A Daily Occurrence In Our Fair Little City. But Seriously, I Guess The "Real" Question Is, Does The "City Of Lawrence" Have That Type Of A Crime Rate (According To The Severities) To Justifiy The Use Of Tazer's? I Guess, Having "Tazer's In Hand" Is Better Than A "Bullet In You Shirt Pocket!)

badger 13 years, 5 months ago

ms_canada, I don't think there are scholarships for non-varsity sports. However, I'd absolutely support a varsity hockey team if we had one. It's one of the few sports I actually care about. I had to look up the rink where they play, so I can start going to games, because I'm chewing on the sofa over not getting my hockey fix this year.

Consumer1: I don't think I'd be surprised at all at the level of crime in Good Ol' Lawrence. However, my question wasn't "Do we even have crime?" but rather "Do we actually have a significant occurrence rate of situations which would be more improved by the incorporation of a Taser than they would by other available options, that we can justify the outlay of tax dollars for purchase and upkeep of the new equipment?"

The moral or ethical discussion about the appropriate use of force with regard to Tasers should be held when the policy for their use is being discussed. The need and merit of the additional equipment should be discussed when they're looking at purchasing.

It's very easy to say, "Cops are necessary and important and people's fathers/brothers/husbands/friends, so give them everything they need to protect us and keep themselves safe!" That is a great mindset, and as one of my volunteer gigs involves working closely with a number of first responders of varying classes, I recognize that cops are people and they're generally good people.

However, neither their interests nor ours are served by hurling money and equipment at them willy-nilly when we're afraid of our world, instead of seriously evaluating the cost-benefit analysis of the equipment vs. other spending options. Right now, I think that an equal amount of money spent on conflict mediation and resolution training, training on good police tactics for crowd control, training on handling domestic disputes (because you're right, a lot of women do beat their husbands, but when the cops show up to a domestic dispute, they often do so with the expectation that it will be the woman who is the victim), would give us a more effective police department, a safer town, and a healthier relationship with our cops.

Liberty 13 years, 5 months ago

Police officers should be able to have the same Constitutional capability of self defense as the general public does to defend themselves from those that would harm them. We all have the same God given freedoms enumerated (listed) in the Constitution to carry guns however we choose or other devices for self defense such as tasers. The problem is that the Police have become Law Enforcement officers serving the corporation for revenue purposes of the City of Lawrence and the Federal government, protecting the corporate system instead of being Peace Officers serving the public interest; maintaining the peace and upholding the Constitution. The police are not supposed to be our authorities, they are in a servant position as our politicians should be, serving the public interest. Since the police have become law enforcement officers, they enforce Unconstitutional laws instead of just keeping the peace and defending the Constitution as they were originally supposed to do. Point in fact is the fireworks ban, smoking ban etc. which have no Constitutional basis and therefore no authority other than the police with guns to force it on the public that they are supposed to serve.

Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty...

badger 13 years, 5 months ago

OB, please reread what I said. Nowhere did I say anything about 'brutality', nor did I say I don't advocate cops being able to use necessary force.

However, most of the cops I know say that unless you're working someplace like Independence (which is what a serious meth problem actually looks like) or 31st and Gilham in KC, there's a significantly greater likelihood of losing control of a domestic incident and getting clocked in the jaw than there is that you'll have to take down a crazed meth-head who's been up for 72 hours in a drug haze. Train them and equip them to handle what they're likely to encounter, and they'll be safer.

Hi_Jinks 13 years, 5 months ago

Okay, let's say whacked-out meth freaks are rare for cops to encounter in a place like Lawrence. Fine. But if a whacked-out meth freak is encountered? Can you "reason" with someone like that? What does a cop do in situation like that?---Or suppose you have some junkie dude who for all you or I know has HIV or something.....Do you "tackle" a person like that and risk getting bitten by him?--I wouldn't want that to happen to me! I'd zap him before I ever got near him! I think tasers have their place, I really do. Even if they're only for "extreme situations" that occur "every once in a while".

And as far as cost goes.......Maybe the department can purchase a few tasers and if one cop encounters a person who's looking and acting like a wild animal....that cop can call for another patrol car to come by that has a taser gun (assuming the cop at the scene isn't carrying one).

Hi_Jinks 13 years, 5 months ago

...And speaking of wild animals.......I'd rather see a cop "taser" an unruly, disobedient dog---then shoot it!! Are taser guns safe to use on dogs? Does anybody know? ----That's a serious question, BTW. I'd really like to know what a taser gun would do to a dog, or a bear, or a cow, or what have you.

Savage 13 years, 5 months ago

First off, how many douglas county officers have been killed in the line of duty? Second, I think if someone gets lit up and dies, if they are unarmed should be able to sue for monetary damages. Most officers are trained for grappling and in the use of clubs already and have pepper sprays available as well. Even with the use of tasers, I'm sure they will continue to use the spray. Also, Rubber bullets make me feel bad for the red sox fan who died when hit in the eye lately. I'm sure her family misses her.

badger 13 years, 5 months ago

Ok, on this hypothetical meth freak:

What if he's standing within a group of people less than five feet from him? Can't Taser him.

What if he's holding on to another person as a hostage? Can't Taser him.

What if he and another LPD officer are standing four feet apart in standing water? Can't Taser him.

The point is that the Taser is NOT the end-all-be-all of nonlethal law enforcement conflict resolution. Each of these scenarios involving our hypothetical druggie is as likely as his encounter with an LPD officer is to be in the first place.

I'm talking about responsible allocation of public funds, not whether Tasers are Good Things(tm).

Let's say I give you the police department to run. After you trim some fat, apply for some grants, tighten up the ship a little, you find that you have a 50 thousand dollar surplus. Do you take that 50 thousand dollars and put it into Tasers, development of a policy to use them, training, and oversight of the Taser Use Program? Do you use it to upgrade your scanners, vehicles, and department computers to provide more effective identification of criminals during traffic stops? Do you use it to improve the means for catching people bringing drugs into Lawrence? Do you use it to send twenty officers to conflict resolution, community mediation, and domestic violence prevention training to help them identify and resolve dangerous situations before they get out of control? Do you use it to train officers to recognize the symptoms of spousal and parental abuse, so they can know when to call in the Child Protective folks and get a kid the hell out of a bad home?

You can't do all these things. With fifty thousand bucks, you could probably do one, or maybe two if you picked the cheaper options. You have to choose to spend the money where it will actually do the most good for the community and the department in the long run, and I'm utterly not convinced that Tasers are that option.

Savage 13 years, 5 months ago

Nowwhatyouthink.... The next thing you know they'll be throwing sleeping gas into a crowded bar and knocking everyone out cold due to an isolated fight. I'm sure you wouldn't mind that a bit either. Hey...why not right? The only side effects would probably be a mild hangover! They've also developed a sound cannon that can drop a crowd to its you own the patent on that one? Curious.

CanadianPassport 13 years, 5 months ago

Yes!! Tasers for everyone, especially police. Anybody who has ever accidentally grabbed an electric fence or accidently worn a dog collar that has an electric charge knows that this stuff won't kill you. They do test those things on the officers, it's true. Yeah, it hurts like hell for a couple of seconds. Get over it. So, someone used one on an old lady. Well, guess what, it didn't kill her. And it didn't kill that six year old kid either. More people die from bee stings than taser shocks. Probably.

Savage 13 years, 5 months ago

Sorry but you reasonibg is off...there have been several deaths from tasers...what you don't know can't hurt you right? While I don't subscribe to the belief in all the stories on prisonplanet dot com...some are truly eye opening

badger 13 years, 5 months ago

Sorry, it postied before I was ready. The last sentence in that paragraph should be, "And if he can't Taser the crowd, he's got common sense, and perhaps his charm and good looks, to try and defuse the situation without busting heads."

Fangorn: No, I haven't read the books you mention. The capitalisation and the (tm) is common practice on a webforum I frequent, and it's just kind of a habit for me. However, the books sound interesting, and I'll probably pick at least one up.

See, if Tasers turn out to be the best true expenditure of the money, after analysis, I'll totally support them. I'm just not really convinced that upping the level of available weapons instead of the level of available tools is a sound choice.

Fangorn 13 years, 5 months ago

Good discussion today. Reasonable and effective advocacy of both sides of the issue.

Badger- thank you for responding to the "Bowling for Columbine" post earlier. You saved me the trouble. I agree that the responsible allocation of public funds is a legitimate aspect of this issue. How much do we benefit and at what cost? What is the point of diminishing returns? Dr. Thomas Sowell often addresses this issue in his writing. Have you read any of his books? He has also referred to "Good Things" (with capital letters), although I don't think he has it "trademarked". [btw, isn't that badger site hilarious? I wonder what kind of chemical substances the creators were using? Mushrooms, perhaps?]

I don't know about other law enforcement agencies, but the Kansas State Patrol requires officers to be "tazed" before they are allowed to carry a Tazer. I see some level of logic in this, but they don't require officers to be shot before they allow them to carry firearms. A friend of mine who is a state trooper tells me that in about 12 years of service he has drawn his weapon about 5 or 6 times. I don't believe he has ever discharged it (other than for training). I have had training in "Peaceful Intervention" and most law enforcement academies include some training of this type. It's an effective tool.

However, not all situations can be peacefully de-escalated and some use of force is necessary. In those instances, I would like officers to have a number of non-lethal options. So I would support the use of Tazers, but subject to the cost-benefit concerns badger brought up.

badger 13 years, 5 months ago

OB, thank you for clarifying. It didn't occur to me that you might have been generally responding. I'm sorry if I came off as snarky.

I, too, would love to live in a world where weapons, lethal or nonlethal, were never necessary for anything but acquiring tasty meat.

I think that the heart of my concern is that in Lawrence, domestic disputes and bar fights are more the norm than meth freaks. I do know about KC, and Independence. I lived not far from Independence in high school, and my mother teaches in a school district that handles Eastern Independence's overflow kids. I've lost two significant others and a good friend to meth addiction. I lived in KC (Westport) for years. I also lived in Columbia MO, where the drugs and the violence ten years ago were worse than they are here today (and it has not gotten better at all) and the papers even worse about glossing it over.

I left KC five years ago. It's been weeks, now, since the last time I cocked my head and said, "Was that gunfire or backfire?" It was once a daily occurrence for me. In 1998 I was on a first-name basis with almost a dozen KC and Westport patrol officers, as well as a couple of the dispatchers, because I was the most likely person to call 911. Most of my neighbors either didn't speak English or had warrants out on them. I do volunteer work with off-duty cops, EMT's, and firemen from across the country.

Trust me when I say that Lawrence, by comparison to what I have seen (add in a couple of summers in DC, including spending some time very lost on occasion in the notorious Southwest Quadrant), is a bucolic paradise. I do not in fact have my head in the sand, notwhatyouthink, and thank you for your uninformed assumption.

Basically, I look at what cops are most likely to encounter in a community. Here, that's drunk drivers, bar fights, domestic disputes, rowdy parties, and small-time drug use. Frankly, I'd rather have a cop armed with common sense and crowd control training wading into a bar fight than a cop with common sense and a Taser. Because, if he has common sense, he won't taser the crowd.

jonas 13 years, 5 months ago

Libcon: The reason you, like Lulu, can stand behind your convictions is because they have never, and will never (ever) be applied to the real world, thus making them a perfect, ideal utopian vision. The problem with this is, that the reason they will not be applied is, very simply, because they are not based in reality, but in a dreamworld that the human society (hell, the human psyche, even) could never accept. Even a cursory scrutiny of your idea shows its inherent inpracticality. You want the guns to go away. How do you propose making them go away? I'm assuming your not in possession of the magic "guns go away" button, so the only other available options are convincing people to be non-violent (while the whole history of human civ. shows a race that glorifies and revels in force and competition, whether friendly or hostile) or to take them away by force, which is exactly what you're trying to stop.

I agree with you, though, in that I would love it if guns were disinvented (though the closet ninja-wannabe in me wants us to go back to sword combat) but, realistically, you have to understand that it's just a pipe-dream.

Hi_Jinks 13 years, 5 months ago

Alright, let me play "devil's advocate" for a moment....

What's more cost effective.....taser guns or more German Shepards riding along with police officers? I know that it's not cheap to train animals to do police work--and it takes a lot of time and patience too. But I was just wondering. I mean after all, Badger, with all of those hypothetical scenarios you gave in an earlier post as to why a taser wouldn't be so practical, a trained German Shepard could attack someone who is standing in water, surrounded by other people. And as far as someone holding a knife against someone's throat is concerned....I do believe that that is what hostage negotiators are for, aren't they? If so, then use of a taser gun would not be an issue. But having said that, taser guns not being considered a "useful tool" in hostage situations is not a valid enough reason, in and of itself, not to have taser guns at all. (In my opinion.)

Also, in keeping with the question I asked in an earlier post, about using a taser gun on an animal (and the effect it would have)....I did a search on that and found out that taser guns have been used on dogs without having killed them! ("And that's a good thing" as the now convicted felon, Martha Stewart, would always say!) Apparently, there have been instances where cops have gone to residences to arrest people on outstanding warrants and have encountered rather mean "guard dogs" on the premises. Rather than blowing the dog away with a rather large slug, the cops have chosen to zap the dogs instead. After being zapped, more often than not, the dogs have just run away!--Not wanting to be zapped again!

CanadianPassport 13 years, 5 months ago

Luckily we don't get to vote on whether police get taser or not. Tasers are less than lethal. Much less. If a baton hits you in the wrong place, that instantly becomes a lethal weapon. This isn't Star Trek. Weapons exist to stop people from doing bad things. It's important that people don't do bad things. It's important for bad people to remember that, so we use weapons as painful, sometimes lethal, reminders.

Police officers get paid very little to take major risks on behalf of others. And we act like they're some untouchable overlords. These are our effing neighbors and friends. If you aren't friends with a police officer, I'd suggest you stop and introduce yourself next time you see one on the street. Why do some people start bawling when we give them the tools to do their job? Criminals should expect to be shot in some circumstances, they can now be grateful when it's a taser instead of a bullet.

badger 13 years, 5 months ago

Hi_Jinks: I wasn't saying Tasers aren't practical or simply suggesting times when they wouldn't be because I think they're Teh EVIL!(tm). One of the common arguments used to outfit departments with Tasers or other weapons when other options might be better uses of taxpayer money is the "Crazed Druggie" hypothesis, which bases itself on the situation that, "What if there was a crazed druggie? You can shoot some of those people five times and they don't go down! A Taser would resolve that, yes it would!"

The counter to that argument is that a Taser wouldn't always necessarily resolve that, and spending that money on Tasers instead of threat assessment training or improved body armor might have actually gotten more officers hurt or killed. The best way is to show situations where a Taser would be utterly ineffective against said crazed druggie, thereby leaving officers worse off against him than they were before, because now the public has an expectation that, "They've got Tasers, so they'll always be able to fix it with nonlethal force."

In fact, sometimes cops have to shoot people. If you arm them with Tasers when the public thinks that Tasers will solve every problem nonlethally, what do you think the response will be when cops find themselves in a situation Tasers cannot resolve and actually have to kill someone to prevent him from harming others, be they cops or innocent bystanders? It won't be pretty.

If you want to arm cops with Tasers, you make sure you're basing that on whether that tool actually will enable them to do their jobs more safely and effectively than the other available options, and you make darn sure your public knows they're not a magic nonlethal fixit.

Hi_Jinks 13 years, 5 months ago


Okay. So would something like a German Shepard be considered a good/worthwhile substitute for a taser gun? From all that you have said today, I get the feeling it would be. I mean, with a dog(s), you would probably get "more bang for your buck", right? German Shepards can be used for crowd control during a protest/demonstration, drug sniffing, seeking out and finding some homeless guy hiding in a dark, empty building or home. Dogs can (more often than not) easily subdue even the most ornery of drunken motorists who aren't too thrilled about being arrested or some dunken party-goer/frat boy hell-bent on rioting after a big football game or something like that.

Just something to consider, I guess.

nicegirl 13 years, 5 months ago

In answer to someone's earlier question, yes local officers have to be "tazed" before they can carry a tazer. A large majority of the posters here are working on the assumption that the officers will not be sufficiently trained to use the weapons and that just isn't the case.

Hi_Jinks: I don't know if if they work on cows, but if the cows around here are like the ones on Me, Myself and Irene maybe the tazer would work better than the gun!

Libcon 13 years, 5 months ago

I no doubt understand that it would be hard to rid the world of guns. But people like Michael Moore are close to doing it. His undercovering of the bad things people in charge do is a huge step.

I was very dissapointed when he did not come to Lawrence after the paper reported he was going to. Maybe that would have changed some of your minds.

badger 13 years, 5 months ago

Consumer1: a coffee group would be great fun. It might, however, destroy my carefully cultivated Internet Aura of Mystery!

vanishes in a puff of smoke

koff, koff

Ok, apparently I'm a nonsmoking badger. Who knew?

Hi_Jinks, I don't think a German Shepard would be an effective substitute for a Taser. Of the two, I think a Taser is both more predictable in its behaviour and more reliable in the outcome of its use.

The overall point I'm getting at is that it only makes sense to equip the officers with weapons additional to the ones they carry if they are regularly likely to encounter situations in which that particular weapon is the best means of resolving the situation safely--and presents the least opportunity possible for technicalities and challenges to the arrest. I don't know (because I don't have good data) whether or not Tasers will do that. Personal affidavits based on individual experiences are not good data. Theories are not good data. Hypotheses are not good data. National crime statistics are not good data (for an evaluation of the needs of a local department). Local crime numbers themselves, without an understanding of how those situations were handled and how their handling would have changed if Tasers had been involved, are good data, but incomplete.

I think that the matter needs to be more carefully evaluated than just the standard dichotomy of "arm the cops more because they might need the weapons/don't arm the cops more because weapons are bad." I also think it's not likely to be, and that this issue is very likely to be decided based on the appearance of support for law enforcement (which goes hand in hand with a total lack of understanding of its real needs and role in the community), public opinion, and some fairly reactionary knee-jerk thought processes. Nothing against the reasonable and intelligent discussion occurring here, just that I doubt it will be the norm when the issue comes up elsewhere.

ms_canada 13 years, 5 months ago

Earlier in the day I asked about London bobbies carrying guns. I will answer that now. They do not routinely carry them on duty. They carry a personal radio on their shoulder and a truncheon. In a vote taken in the mid 1990's 80% of P.C.'s were not in favour of routinely being armed. Also, if a decision were made to arm all officers, 43% said they would not be prepared to carry guns at all times while on duty. More guns are being carried by criminals in Britain inspite of that country having some of the strictest firearms laws in the world. But P.C.'s still prefer not to carry arms. Strange. How do they stop crime, you may ask. Each force in the country (42 forces) has an armed response vehicle equipped and ready to respond when necessary to a conflict, robbery or siege. As of Dec. 1, 1998, Canada's firearms act of 1995 went into effect and those in possession of guns were given until Jan. 1, 2001 to register and obtain a picture licence. In order to receive the licence they were required to take a firearm safety course and pass it. Pres. Clinton ( congrats to him this day on his library) in his state of the union address of 2000, proposed a plan to licence all NEW hand gun buyers and have them pass a gun safety course.
This was immediately opposed by owners, dealers manufacturers and many congressmen. Why is it that a lot of americans have such a fascination with guns? My brother-in-law, living in a small town in Montana, always wore a concealed handgun (legally) when going downtown. I was never pertinent enough to ask him why. I have travelled in many parts of the world and never felt the need to carry a gun, never mind in downtown Hamilton, Montana. Can anyone explain the fascination to me? If Lawrence police care guns, why not tazers? or truncheons? Just some food for thought from the frozen north.

Fangorn 13 years, 5 months ago

"...accidently worn a dog collar"?! Yikes! How do you spend your weekends, CanadianPassport? [What part of Canada are you from? One northern neighbor has already joined us from Alberta.]

Consumer1 and everyone, I like the idea of getting together (although I'd prefer hot chocolate to coffee). I almost suggested it yesterday, but since we don't really know each other I didn't want anyone to worry about psycho-stalkers-in-training. It would be fun to enjoy a meal together without name tags or introductions and then try to guess who each person is. We could all pitch for ms_canada's airfare.

Hi_Jinks 13 years, 5 months ago

Libcon.....or a Michael Moore appearance in Lawrence might have solidified some of his opponents' minds about him and his views, too! (That kind of thing works both ways, ya know?)

BTW, he stated recently that he's coming out with a 9/11 and-a-half sometime in the near future! Oh, boy! A sequel! That should make you happy, huh?!

Consumer1.....good idea! And after a lengthy "coffee chat" we could all go out to some pasture and taser a cow "for experimental purposes"!! (Just kidding!) Or maybe we could all head on over to LuLu's place and get some idea as to how Ted Kaczynski lived most of his adult life. (A lonely one-room shack deep in the woods, with no electricity or running water, just living off of what "Mother Earth" has to offer! That kind of thing!)

Fishman 13 years, 5 months ago

Give them the tools they need. As long as I'm not doing anything wrong the chances of having one used on me are slim, and none. If you're rowdy, drunk, and obnoxious, guess you'll have to deal with a Taser. No way on earth would I want to be in a cops shoes. Yeah, there are ego driven maniacs out there that are cops to be sure, but if you want to complain about them, become an underpaid civil servant that puts their life at risk each and every day they go to work. Like I said before, stay out of trouble, and act like a reasonably sane person, and the cops generally don't come knockin'!

nicegirl 13 years, 5 months ago

Ms Canada: Hey, if you guys in Canada or in England don't need guns as part of your law enforcement, then congratulations. You obviously have worked out something we haven't done yet. However, there is no way I'm letting my husband go to work with just a whistle and a radio.

As for discussion group, could be fun. However since as Fangorn pointed out we don't know each other, I request permission to bring my tazer gun.

monkeywrench1969 13 years, 5 months ago

Several folks referring to the Sevier shooting forget the bad guy was attacking the cops with a knife. Theyhad there guns out because they knew it was a scary situation. I would assume nicegirl would not want her husband wanting to walk in to a situation like that with out a bigger adn badder weapon that might cause the bad guy to think about "maybe this is not a good idea."

If they walked in with a tazer, club or empty handed they are not controling the situation and the bad guy could attack them, seriously hurt them and then have all the cops weapons at their disposal and who would be between the parents who called the cops and the bad guy they called the cops about.

Knives are serious weapons contrary to Hollywood's view that they can be kicked out of someone's hand.

jonas 13 years, 5 months ago

It would be interesting to see what you people look like, I must admit. I must admit, as well, to being somewhat afraid of the idea of talking in this group without the benefit of editing and a pre-prompted question. Maybe we can have someone run by with a question on a giant index card every 5 minutes or so. Ding topic change.

Hoof-hearted: If you're still lurking out there, you need a job?

nicegirl 13 years, 5 months ago

I think that I have already made it clear that I would not want my husband in the position of not being sufficiently armed to protect himself or to protect others. In no way did I indicate that I sided with the Sevier family. I simply said that only the officers and the victim know the whole truth and using a website posted by the victims family is not credible evidence of police brutality. I happen to also know the officer in question outside of the work environment and have serious doubts that he is capable of using his position as an officer to kill in cold blood.

badger 13 years, 5 months ago

Ok, there's a program called Meetup that lets you set up groups and meetings and automated RSVP and reminders. I'll set up one this evening, and post back here with the linky or the name of the group, and people can join if they're interested. It lets you suggest locations and vote on them, as well, I think.

Fangorn 13 years, 5 months ago

I love bagels. Great idea. Giant index cards could be useful, but we could also drop topic ideas in a random pile and then pick one at a time for consideration by the group. We may not get to all of them that day, or some topics may be passed over by the group, but this would give everyone the opportunity to suggest discussion ideas. g2g, bbl.

ms_canada 13 years, 5 months ago

very interesting topic this day. Jinks, I don't blame you for wanting your hubby well protected. Btw, Canadian police do carry guns and radios on their shoulders. I have long wondered how the Brits manage without them, but they somehow do. I was not advocating this sort of thing for the US. I just threw the thought out for consideration and wonder. Fangorn, I would surely love to join the coffee clatch. It would be fun and appreciate the offer of airfare. I'm not sure you would get many contributing, in any event, I believe I have enough aeroplan (Air Can.) points saved to be able to make the trip. Just name the time and place and recommend a good hotel. Badger - thanx for the info about the hockey scholarships.

Hi_Jinks 13 years, 5 months ago

ms_canada.....regarding your 3:31pm post.....My husband is not a police officer. As a matter of fact, I don't even have a husband! And speaking strictly as a heterosexual male....I don't plan on having a husband anytime soon!

nicegirl is the one with the police officer husband. I enjoy reading your posts, however! It's nice to hear from someone who lives so far away! :) !!!

Libcon 13 years, 5 months ago

To reveal the identity of anyone in this group would ruin the type of group it is. It would bring pre-conceived notions when judging what one says b/c you would know what they look like.

Larry 13 years, 5 months ago

I have no problem with it. I do not fear that any police officier would ever use it on me or my family because we are all very respectful to police officiers. I trust that the police will always act in an appropriate manner provided that I do the same.

ms_canada 13 years, 5 months ago

Boy what a flub up! my sincere apology to you Jinks, and also to nicegirl. But feeling still applies. I almost married a police officer once. A mounted police officer. You know, the ones in the red suits.

monkeywrench1969 13 years, 5 months ago

Nicegirl I was siding with you. In order to control a situation you have to have a higher level of weapon than what the other guy has so you can at least try to negotiate with them IF THEY ARE WILLING TO LISTEN. If they are not listening and attack then the cop can protect him self and the others who called him there (In Seviers case-his parents they called for help)

As far taking guns from everyone it won't work because something else will become a weapon of choice something the anti-gun folks never talk about. When I was in Europe about five or seven years ago. I read an article about a disgruntled employee in England who commited a mass killing in his work place after being fired. He did not use a gun...he used a samaruai sword killing or wounding between two and five people. The papers were filled with stories about how they needed to ban "martial arts weapons and swords" because the killer "just walked into a store, bought it and went on a rampage.

If you would have removed "martial arts weapon/swords" and put in gun. You would have the same discussion we are having on this forum about guns

PigFarmer 13 years, 5 months ago

Now if you equip the Lawrence police with tasers does that mean they taser SpongeBob SquarePants signs or continue deflating the signs?

Topeka police went out and purchased a bunch of assault rifles. They didn't have enough budget for everyone to have one, but they pass a law letting them buy their own if one was not provided. For some reason the police need them off duty?

Punkin 13 years, 5 months ago

The following link provides an interesting article about the manufacturer of Tasers and their connection to the promotion of this technology in law enforcement, and its consequences.

You might have to cut and paste the link as it comes in the form of a PDF file:

ms_canada 13 years, 5 months ago

monkeywrench - you are so right on two counts in your post above. That is one reason the Brit. police give as a reason for not wanting to carry guns. The criminals would just have to have bigger and better guns and where does it all end. And about the samurai sword bit, true, if no guns, a killer would just find some other method. As someone said the other day, morality cannot be legislated. There is so much hatred in the world and all the laws ever made cannot change that fact. What is the answer? How do we get people to be more tolerant of one another? But there is the need for the police officers in any town or city to protect themselves and others and if tazers are an aid, so be it. I don't know if the officers in my city have them or not, but would not object if they wanted to have them. We have some bad guys here too. Drugs and such.

Fangorn 13 years, 5 months ago

Regarding getting together to discuss in person:

If ms_canada is serious about joining us, we should plan well enough in advance to allow her to travel. That would be just too cool! Plus I'll need time to learn all words to "O Canada" and to brush up on the biography of Laura Secord.

I had pondered the same concern as Libcon, about how losing our anonymity would affect the group. But my concern was allayed when I considered that for those who post regularly, it is far too late for pre-conceived notions. Let me name, entirely from memory, people who post with some frequency: badger, ms_canada, larry, libcon, nicegirl, craigers, lulu, consumer1, the original bob (was there a copycat bob?), hi_jinks, jonas, lunacy detector, carmenilla, Fangorn (of course), and then they was that one guy . . .if only I could remember his username. :-) I know there are others and I apologize for excluding anyone, but I'm relying on memory and it's getting late.

My point is that each of these people has posted often enough that we already have a pretty good idea of what positions, etc. each might espouse based on what they THINK. So any notions we may have conceived about each other are based on our views, not on our looks. We may in fact have pre-conceived notions about what others look like, and it's always fun to shatter pre-conceptions with reality. I'm sure everyone will recognize me immediately. I'm fourteen feet tall, speak slowly, and have twigs for hair:no wait, I don't look anything like that.

Anyway, I'm all for the idea. When badger gets the link posted (thanks for facilitating this, badger), I'll be signing up. With the busy holidays approaching, we may need to wait until January. Plus giving ms_canada time to arrange travel and me time to practice. [fade to black, singing in background: "O Canada! Our home and native land. . . "]

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