What is a Taser and how does it work?
Taser is an electroshock hand-held weapon produced by Axom (formerly Taser International). It is a non-lethal weapon that police officers can use as an alternative to deadly firearms. Tasers can subdue a potentially dangerous individual without causing any serious injury. It is a very helpful tool to reduce fatality during police confrontations.
When you fire a Taser, it produces two electrodes that remain connected to the weapon by very thin wires. These electrodes will send an electric current to incapacitate muscles. The electrodes are stored in a cartridge that needs to be replaced after every shot (some models can fire up to three shots). A Taser can fire up to 35 ft. and can penetrate clothing.
What does the law say about Taser?
It is illegal for civilians to own a Taser anywhere in Australia. Not even all police officers can carry a Taser. In Queensland, only police personnel on patrol and members of the Special Emergency Response Team are allowed to carry a Taser. They are trained to assess situations and decide if use of Tasers is the most appropriate solution. Police officers can only use a Taser after passing a rigorous training about proper handling and risk analysis. The Taser models currently used by Queensland police are M26 and X26.
What is the danger of using a Taser?
Tasers and other stun guns are considered as weapons, and any misused weapon is dangerous to anyone. Although tasers are proven safe when used correctly by police, it can also cause harm when handled by wrong persons. Tasers can lead criminals to acquire even more powerful firearms, that is why it is not legal to carry a taser.
Police are also instructed to handle tasers with accountability. Though not as powerful as handguns, tasers can be used for torture and punishment. Police policy prohibits the use of tasers on females, elderly persons, and juveniles. Tasers should not be used for coercion, as a control measure, and even as a force for compliance.
How can we be sure that Tasers are not misused by Police?
The Queensland Police Service is continuously developing its training and policy on Taser handling. All is in coordination with the Crime and Misconduct Commission and overseen by the Ethical Standards Command. This is to make sure that no policy loopholes are overlooked in terms of Police use of Tasers. Constant reviews and investigations of incidents involving Police use of tasers are also made to make sure that all police officers are complying with the policy made by QPS. Back in 2013, CMC published a report on all incidents involving multiple and prolonged deployments of tasers. Queensland Police Officers who were found guilty by the investigation received disciplinary action.
You can reach out to CMC and ESC for any complaints or concerns regarding Tasers misuse of Police Officers.