Over the last couple of weeks, a training bulletin has set off a controversy throughout the law enforcement community. This controversy came to light at the Legal & Liability Risk Management Institute when it was learned that a number of agencies had taken TASER™ ECDs out of service. At the outset it is important to recognize that electronic control devices are a valuable law enforcement tool and are safe for continued use. A great deal of the initial reaction was based in confusion as to the distinction between products liability law and the law related to law enforcement’s use of force. This article should be read by all officers who presently or in the future will carry a TASER™ ECD. It should also be read by attorneys who represent law enforcement in TASER™/Use of Force cases.
In issuing TASER™ Training #15, TASER™ International asserted: “Should Sudden Cardiac Arrest occur in a scenario involving a TASER™ discharge to the chest area – it would place the law enforcement agency, the officer, and TASER™ International in the difficult situation of trying to ascertain what role, if any, the TASER™ ECD could have played in a unique situation that cannot be replicated in human clinical safety evaluations. In order to reduce the risk of such an event, and in light of the fact that frontal applications of TASER™ ECDs have been found to be more effective when the probes are targeted at the lower torso (engaging the balancing muscles of the pelvic triangle) we have lowered the recommended point of aim from the center of mass to the lower center of mass for frontal discharges. We believe this recommendation will improve the effective use of TASER™ ECDs while also further increasing safety margins and enhancing the ability to defend such cases in post event legal proceedings.”
Broken down simply there are three stated reasons for this change:
Improve the effectiveness of TASER™ deployments-TASER™ is more effective when engaging the muscles of the pelvic triangle.
Increased the safety margins of TASER™– Move the targeting area away from the heart to decrease the already extremely low, almost non-existent, possibility of a cardiac event. Also, lowering the preferred targeting area moves probe deployments lower to reduce the risk of a probe striking the throat, face, eyes, and female breast.
Enhance the ability to defend such cases in post event legal proceedings.
In the media, this was seen as an admission by TASER™ International that a TASER™ may cause death. TASER™ International pointed out in the bulletin: “Researchers have concluded that a close distance between the ECD dart and the heart is the primary factor in determining whether an ECD will affect the heart. This risk is judged to be extremely low in field use.” Thus, although unlikely to cause death, TASER™ recommended lowering the targeting area so as to increase the effectiveness of the ECD while avoiding litigating these issues.
Checklist for TASER®
laminated 8 1/2 x 11, 2 sided
TRC487: Taser (& ECD’s) Legal Update & Best Practices
CD of recorded Webinar, Instructor’s PowerPoint® and TASER® Legal Update & Best Practices Manual (Electronic copy).
TRC486: Excited Dilirium Legal Update & Best Practices
CD of recorded Webinar, Instructor’s PowerPoint® and Excited Dilirium Legal Update & Best Practices Manual (Electronic & Print copy)
TRC490: Safe Storage of Firearms Legal Update & Best Practices
CD of recorded Webinar, Instructor’s PowerPoint®
TRC491: Use of Force, Legal Update & Best Practices
CD of recorded Webinar, Instructor’s PowerPoint®, Use of Force manual, 2nd ed. (Print copy)