Another TASER death headline fail – Allen Kephart TASER Death Evidence Shuffle. A cause of death has not been determined or at least hasn’t been made public, yet Reason Magazine didn’t respond to our headline correction request. The headline is live & misleads the reader into thinking the TASER exposure caused the tragic death of Mr. Kephart even though this is pure speculation. Reason Magazine appears to be a magazine that isn’t concerned with misleading their readers.
What do you think?
When the use of TASER electronic control devices (ECDs) comes under scrutiny, we have to use science and facts to win the day over speculation, urban myths, and inaccurate portrayals of the impact of ECDs on our communities. This data is also crucial in understanding that purchasing TASER technology provides safer communities as well as a return on their investment by reducing risk exposure. In dire economic times, a ROI is even more important as any equipment purchased by law enforcement and should be a “force multiplier” to get the most out of their investment.
Inside the walls of TASER, we have a clear understanding of what TASER ECDs can and can’t do in the context of providing safer communities. We are constantly engaged in studies and tests to determine the true impact that TASER ECDs can have in potentially saving the life of a suspect or an officer as well as collecting actual field data. One thing we’ve come to understand over the years is the positive impact TASER devices have on law enforcement agencies and the communities they serve. Thankfully, you don’t have to take our word for it. There are numerous independent studies (approximately 75 percent) from third party sources not related to TASER International that back up our claims.
One such study comes from the Michigan Municipal Risk Management Association (MMRMA) — a public entity self-insurance pool providing liability and property coverage. The MMRMA represents 149 Michigan law enforcement agencies and the approximately 6,000 officers employed by those agencies. Ultimately, MMRMA provides risk management, claims administration, legal defense and reinsurance services to its local government members from unexpected liability and property losses.
For some history, the MMRMA is quite familiar with TASER ECDs and has studied the impact of these devices upon its members since 2003. They had a vested interest in this research as there were no ECDs in use prior to 2003 as they were illegal in Michigan even for law enforcement use (thus making this a perfect test environment to measure the “before and after” impact of the introduction of TASER technology.)
As a result of their findings, the MMRMA actually provides a TASER Risk Avoidance Program (RAP). In July 2003, after extensive review, they began partial reimbursement to clients upon purchase of TASER ECDs. The MMRMA is able to provide this reimbursement because its research indicates that agencies with a TASER program reduce use of force litigation and excessive force claims reported by members.
The MMRMA most recent review of its 2003-2008 field results provide a unique snapshot of the impact TASER ECDs have on the state of Michigan.
The reduction in excessive force claims that occurred as the TASER units increased in numbers in Mighigan was indicative of other agencies’ experience anecdotally but now it was shown by actuaral data (see image below). In turn the drop in claims provides agencies less exposure and therefore can save money for these communities .
Note that there were no TASER ECDs prior to 2003 and very few made it into the field initially as it took some time to begin training, sales and implementation of the TASER programs. The claims decrease continued as more TASER ECDs were introduced. Michigan went from no agencies with TASER ECDs in 2002 to more than 550 agencies equipping their officers with TASER ECDs in 2011.
What about Injuries?
In addition, of the 1,768 instances in which a TASER ECD has been used in Michigan in this review, only 83 reported secondary injuries (4.6 percent), and only three of the injuries were considered significant.
Let’s take a look:
Interestingly, the results also show a continuing decline in the number of claims filed against Michigan’s law enforcement agencies, as well as the requisite dollar amounts of these claims.
These results are extremely positive. Quite frankly these statistics are in concert with the field studies that I have collected from law enforcement agencies for more than a decade. As for why these results occur and without speculating, it might help looking at some of the requirements made by the MMRMA, as this might shed facts on the matter instead of conjecture:
We too, believe these requirements help support our continuing mantra that good policies, training and oversight are the keys to successful TASER ECD programs. The results are also encouraging in that Michigan is now one of our top states for TASER agency law enforcement deployments. But more importantantly, facts and science win the day and the experience of an actual risk management association provides hard actuarial data.
Do TASER ECDs provide safer communities and a significant ROI? Yes and the proof is in the pudding.
Ever wonder how much wire we consume in the manufacturing of cartridges? How long it takes to build an X26?
We devour approximately 5,520,000 feet of wire per month. We’d bet that we’re a favorite of our suppliers. We’ve produced 9,453,553 standard cartridges, 223,169 C2 cartridges & 155,624 Smart cartridges. Our automation produces a cartridge every 3.7 seconds. The Tesla Roadster accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in 3.7 seconds. BTW, our Chairman drives one.
It takes 41 minutes to build an X26 that’s 492 5-second cycles. 31 minutes is the time it takes to fly from Phoenix to Las Vegas - 10 minutes more & we can hand you an X26. We’ve produced more than 600,000 X26s that are deployed in more than 16,000 law enforcement agencies in 107 countries. We’re International, baby!
What can YOU do in 41 minutes?
“Nassau Bay TASER victim dies.” Once again, a news agency writes an inflammatory headline before the facts are known. The headline editor’s job is to write dramatic headlines but this becomes problematic when more & more people are using mobile devices to stay connected & don’t read past the headline. In addition, the headline & the story were picked up by numerous other news organizations perpetuating the misleading “TASER death” headline.
First, is this a victim or suspect? Technically, this is a “suspect” who was in the process of being arrested. Also, if we disagree on symantics, at this point, it’s premature to say if Mr. Hayes is a “TASER victim.” The autopsy hasn’t been concluded, no cause of death has been established and the investigation is on-going.
Despite several efforts requesting a change to this headline, the editors have not responded. What happened to media neutrality? Shouldn’t this state something neutral like, “Nassau Bay Man Dies in Custody” rather than the “TASER death” assumption? That seems fair.