We’re living in the age of the smart phone. The tragedy in Boston & the manhunt thereafter clearly demonstrates the value of videos & images. Without a doubt video assets provided invaluable evidence to solve this tragic incident effectively & quickly.
Decrease In Complaints
Because of Rialto PD’s extensive data gathering and controlled study, the data is compelling. Over the course of 1 year, officer complaints fell by 87.5% in the experimental group. The data shows the officers increased interactions with the public compared to the previous year, and still complaints fell dramatically.
Decrease In Use Of Force
Rialto PD also focused on their Officer use-of-force data. During the experiment, individuals wearing an AXON flex reduced use-of-force by 59%. This data indicates that the presence of the camera not only encouraged compliance from the public but it also reduced instances of use of force by officers.
What do you think? On-officer cameras appear to improve behavior on both sides of the badge. Let’s face it – no one wants to look bad on camera.
A recent San Francisco Chronicle article announced that San Francisco PD’s Chief Greg Suhr withdrew a proposal to conduct a pilot program to test & evaluate TASER CEWs. It was reported that Chief Suhr told the Police Commission that there were too many restrictions on using CEWs and it would increase the risk to officers & residents.
Anyone following this story isn’t surprised by this given the Chicken Little banter by TASER critics in the Bay Area that has occurred at the mere mention of TASER, TASER, TASER! The rumor mill was over-the-top & there were too many outrageous claims made by anti-TASER groups in the efforts by the last three police chiefs. Yes, three different police administrations in a row have been denied even the opportunity to test TASER technology.
However, the community has spoken. Or has it? While critics are resoundingly encouraged by this action, is this really a win for the great city of San Francisco?
Here are some comments made by TASER that were posted in the San Francisco Chronicle:
Steve Tuttle, a spokesman for TASER International Inc., said Thursday the decision in San Francisco came as no surprise.
“In reality, the activists have won a step back to the Stone Age in modern policing by preferring pain compliance and batons to beat dangerous subjects into submission instead of using a safer, more effective and accountable response to resistance,” Tuttle said.
More than 17,000 law enforcement agencies across the country use Tasers, Tuttle said.
In response to an article citing Jennifer Friedenbach, Executive Director of the Coalition on Homelessness who said, “We’re very excited, we think they made the right decision. They’re going to save lives by not using Tasers.”
Dear Jennifer, I’d l like to just open the dialogue for one moment. I’d like you to not judge or predispose yourself to any opinions until you read my quick email to you.
I saw your quote about TASER technology and must admit I’m struck by the statement that you’re going “to save lives by not using Tasers.”
I wasn’t surprised by the outcome given all of the controversy concerning TASER devices in San Francisco. However, it’s a shame is that the technology wasn’t even allowed to be put to the test to prove or disprove that TASER technology was an advancement forward in safety, effectiveness and accountability. Had it failed, the SFPD would have scraped the program. But just imagine if it had the same results worldwide in which thousands of agencies saw use of force drop while reducing injuries to officers and suspects.
Instead, the SFPD is left without the opportunity to prove or disprove the success of TASER technology.
Can you name another response to resistance tool that has been studied more (try to find multiple studies from PubMed on baton strikes, impact munitions, OC, fists, kicks, and punches), and you won’t find any of the tools that SFPD uses with any accountability means as our TASER with cameras and its secure Dataport downloads that are independent witnesses to the time, date and duration of each use or the effectiveness of stopping an escalation of force.
“While I understand that your organization is against TASER devices, I’d like to ask as food for thought, ‘If not TASER at SFPD, then what?’ I’m not talking about when a response to resistance doesn’t require force. I’m talking about stopping someone who is violent and dangerous that would fit a SFPD policy:
When the use of force is necessary and appropriate, officers shall, to the extent possible, utilize an escalating scale of options and not employ more forceful measures unless it is determined that a lower level of force would not be adequate, or such a level of force is attempted and actually found to be inadequate. The scale of options, in order of increasing severity, is set forth below:
a. Verbal Persuasion
b. Physical Control e.g., passive resister, bent wrist control, excluding the carotid restraint)
c. Liquid Chemical Agent (Mace/Oleoresin Capsicum)
d. Carotid Restraint
e . Department-issued Baton
f . Firearm
We know beating someone to submission isn’t the answer. While I understand the fears of TASER, I don’t understand how anyone could accept choking someone out or beating somebody into submission.”
So, what’s up on deck next? Bean bag rounds, perhaps. Is this what was won? Shooting bean bags (akin to being hit by a major league baseball) at dangerous suspects. Any cameras on those? You’ll really want to see what happens when that occurs for accountability & transparency. Any computer chips that record the time, date & duration on those or on any of those items listed a-f above? Nada.
Did the community really speak out? Of course, that’s the right & proper thing to do as a nation dedicated to public discourse.
But can we trust the decisions of our own US DOJ’s report about the relative safety of TASER technology as well as the fact this is the most tested less-lethal tool studied in law enforcement to date? Can we not trust the thoughtful decisions of 17,000 law enforcement agencies to deploy TASER CEWs? Many of which required independent safety studies conducted by their own governments. How about how TASER devices have saved more than 105,000 lives from death or serious injury in 1.85 million uses? Or can’t we trust the men & women in blue that protect & serve San Francisco with TASER CEWs as they already trust them with guns?
I find it hard to believe that the vast majority of San Franciscans are jumping for joy that they are among one of only a handful (literally) of major cities in the U.S. that have not deployed TASER devices to save lives & protect officers.
Even other independent DOJ reports are encouraging enough to at least test the equipment because of the potential for safer communities:
In a study that compared seven law enforcement agencies that use TASER CEWs with six agencies that do not, researchers found:
Oh I know this sounds like sour milk (it even does to me), but it’s hard to say congratulations when potential alternative to save lives, reduce injuries to suspects & officers wasn’t even at least tried. The sky is not falling but I can tell you that going back to the Stone Age is no accomplishment to be proud of today.
The NY Times recently published story: Wearing a Badge, and a Video Camera. It reports that the use of AXON Flex cameras can reduce complaints by 89% & use of force by nearly 60%. These findings were the result of a year long case study conducted by Chief Tony Farrar, Rialto PD, CA, in collaboration with Cambridge University Institute of Criminology.
Law enforcement pays out more than $2.5 billion dollars annually on complaints and lawsuit settlements alone. Clearly POV on-officer cameras are the video solution for accountable policing – accountable to both law enforcement agencies & the public.
Benefits of TASER AXON Flex on-officer cameras:
Officer protection – US law enforcement spends approximately $2 billion in settlements each year to resolve claims. Agencies deploying Point-of-View (POV) video report dramatic decrease in complaints.
Time-saver & increases efficiency – Officers spend more time on patrol with automated workflows that reduce administrative workload. Plug & Go: at the end of a shift an officer simply places the Flex camera & controller in a charger & walks away while it automatically uploads the videos. No need to sit & wait for uploads.
Accountability – Enhances public trust & creates safer communities at a lower cost.
Improves behavior – Both officers & citizen behavior improves knowing they’re being recorded.
Reduces false complaints & lawsuits – Video accurately records incident from the officer’s perspective.
Pre-event video buffer – The greatest reduction in complaints & lawsuits when actions leading up to the incidents are recorded.
Low light recording – This best shows what the human eye actually sees in dim lighting.
ROI – Ultimately the reduction of meritless complaints, litigation, use of force, & the saving of time all adds up to the one crucial overall benefit –providing a return on a communities investment.
Testimony is interesting. Video is compelling.
First, let’s start with the basics:
Electricity is a flow of energy, or more specifically a flow of electric charge within a conductor. That conductor can be a copper wire, or it can be the human body. Much like water flows through a pipe, electrons flow through a wire. When we measure electricity, there are two key measures – voltage, measured in volts, & current, measured in amperes.
Voltage is similar to the pressure in a water hose. The voltage provides the “pressure” to push an electric current through the wire.
Current is the measure of the actual flow of electricity – how many electrons are actually flowing through the wire.
In our analogy to flowing water, voltage is like pressure, measured in pounds per square inch. Current is the flow rate, similar to gallons per second in our water analogy.
By way of analogy, let’s compare a waterfall to rainfall. The pressure or voltage behind each droplet of water in the waterfall is actually a lot less than for each rain drop – because the rain drop is falling from a much greater height. So, the “voltage” of this waterfall is much less than for rain.
However, the rate of flow or “current” for the waterfall is much, much higher than for the rain, which falls in small droplets separated in space & time compared to the continuous flow of the waterfall. Standing under the waterfall would certainly be a very dangerous place to be – much more so than in the rain. Similarly, being exposed to a high current electrical current – like the one out of your wall outlet, can be very dangerous, even at moderate voltages like 110 volts.
Exposure to high voltage, low current shocks – such as a static discharge on a dry day, is far less dangerous. Static shocks regularly exceed 30,000 volts, yet they deliver very low amounts of electric charge, & there has never been a reported injury directly from the effects of a static shock, although there have been some secondary injuries from people who were surprised & may have fallen, etc.
When we think about electricity, the first term to come to mind is usually “volts.” This is because our electric power grid is a fixed voltage system, & is rated in volts.
However, when we talk about electricity safety, the current in amperes is much more critical than voltage. For example, a TASER CEW has about a tenth of the peak current of a static shock.
So, if voltage is not the key factor in making an electrical stimulation effective, why does a TASER CEW have a high peak voltage?
The rainfall analogy is a very good one for a TASER CEW discharge. The drops of rain are separated by time & space such that the actual “current” or flow of water down from the sky is quite small.
So, this naturally begs the question – if the TASER CEW output current is so low, how can it be effective in stopping a violent subject?
The answer is because the TASER current does not rely on brute force, or on sheer power. Instead, the CEW’s pulsed output is really an elegant approach to incapacitating violent persons. Our TASER CEW pulses mimic the electrical signals used within the human body to communicate between the brain & the muscles. It simulates the pulsed communications used within the nerves, & interferes with communication – like static on the telephone lines within the body. When the device is on, a person cannot do controlled movements.
Sometimes people will ask “Isn’t electricity dangerous?” The answer is – well yes, it can be. But electricity is actually necessary for life – we literally cannot live without it.
Electrical pulses control every thought we have, every breath we take, every sensation we feel, every sight we see, every sound we hear – every complex life process depends on these electrical signals within our bodies that occur billions of times every second.
The brain is like an incredibly complex conductor, leading a string section of incomprehensible complexity. As the brain uses electrical “pings” to stimulate the nerves in a complex & highly coordinated fashion, consciousness emerges & neuromuscular control becomes possible.