Posts Tagged ‘Taser’

How are you going to use armed police officers in your story?  Read the below and see if any of it helps you get them in there at the right time for the right reason.

One of the most respected aspects of British policing was that in the main, it went about its’ daily business unarmed, unlike many of their international colleagues.  Go back to the 1980s and the sole means of protection police officers in the UK had, was a wooden truncheon.  Men had one of around 16 inches or 40 cm in length, which they slipped into a truncheon pocket stitched into their trouser leg.  Police women had a much smaller one to fit in their handbags.

Over the years, the truncheon became a baton, much stronger and harder to break.  The old truncheons often snapped on impact.  Handcuffs that most criminals knew how to get out of were replaced with rigid style handcuffs that could also be used offensively.  Body armour or stab vests followed and have become lighter, tighter fitting and more resistant to knife attack and some calibre of bullet.  CS or Pepper Spray came along and was issued to all operational officers.  The latest piece of equipment in use now is the Taser, carried by a small number of uniformed patrol and firearms officers.A Taser stun gun is demonstrated.

Since the terrorist attacks in Paris this year, there have been calls to arm all operational officers with a Taser so that they are better able to defend themselves and detain a violent suspect: www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/jan/30/frontline-police-tasers-terror-threat-federation-leader

I’m not sure how many officers when confronted by a suspect armed with a pistol or rifle, would choose to stand and confront them with their trusty 50,000 volt side-arm.

On the other hand, there are people such as the former Home Secretary David Blunkett calling for the police to “step back” from using the Taser, especially in the light of reports that they were drawn over 400 time against children in 2013: www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/feb/25/david-blunkett-police-step-back-taser-use

It is important to note the word “drawn” as opposed to “used against,” as it has been found that often the mere production of a Taser has caused violent offenders to become more compliant.  Additionally, the weapon can be “Arced” to show the sparks between the two electrodes i.e. it works: it can also be used in “Drive Stun” mode which is best imagined as how a stun gun would be used rather than the firing of barbs into/onto the body before pulsing the electric charge.

It’s also worth noting that the use of a Taser is seen as less lethal than a baton strike which can cause far more serious and lasting bodily injury than a Taser, which why some members of the public ask why resort to a Taser so early on or even at all?  Isn’t it a last resort?  The answer is very much – NO.

A comprehensive Q&A with the Association of Chief Police Officers can be found at: www.acpo.police.uk/ThePoliceChiefsBlog/201302TaserBlog.aspx

However, along with the call to equip more officers with Taser, there has been an increase in the number of times that trained firearms officers have been deployed to non – life threatening incidents.  This isn’t because more officers are armed.  Greater Manchester Police only recently intended to reduce the number of armed officers they employed.  This decision has since been rescinded: www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/greater-manchester-news/plans-cut-armed-police-officers-8409209

The Metropolitan Police by contrast have decided to increase their number of trained firearms officers to combat the threat of terror attacks in London: www.standard.co.uk/news/london/hundreds-more-gun-police-to-be-trained-to-combat-london-terror-threat-10010568.html

But along with the austerity cuts in Police budgets, there has been a reduction in total officer numbers which has led to fewer staff doing more work, hence armed officers are now being deployed to incidents more frequently than being held back awaiting incidents specifically needing their specialist skills in attendance.  Examples provided by the Daily Mail, include Thames Valley Police deploying armed officers to 8700 routine calls last year: www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2943516/Police-carrying-guns-routine-call-outs-including-tens-thousands-minor-incidents-burglaries-car-crashes.html

How will you factor authorised firearms officers and Taser deployment and use into your stories?

Coming very soon – the most comprehensive policing directory for writers and researchers in the world.

Often when the police use a Taser on someone, there is an outcry that they were heavy-handed, irresponsible and had no right resorting to such underhand tactics.

Many do not realise that the Taser is regarded as one of the least damaging of the personal safety equipment officers possess and that it is preferred that they use this method (where appropriate and proportionate) rather than resorting to either CS spray or even worse a baton, which can do lasting and permanent damage to the suspect.

It is therefore refreshing to see one of the many complaints against the police to be referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) finding in favour of the police officers rather than the suspect.

The case involved two men who had threatened a taxi driver in South Wales.  The attending officers used a Taser against the suspects who were liable for arrest and posed a threat to the police.

The IPCC said that the officers acted properly and with a proportionate level of force despite one of the men complaining that a barb from the Taser had become embedded in his head and he had received stitches to both his forehead and his nose.

Witnesses to the incident confirmed that the two men had racially abused and physically threatened the taxi driver to which they both pleaded guilty to and that both men had offered aggression and resistance when officers attended at their property. to arrest

Independent Police Complaints Commission

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The IPCC stated that “the evidence obtained in the course of the IPCC investigation did not support the allegation of  assault by officers. The evidence indicates that he (the complainant) sustained his injuries as a result of a Taser-induced fall onto a hard surface and the officers gave appropriate medical assistance as soon as he was subdued.

“We have found that the officers acted properly and used reasonable force to arrest two men who violently resisted arrest.

“The public expect police officers to respond to dangerous situations such as this and offer protection to those being assaulted. The police officers who responded that night were faced with two violent men who posed a threat to their safety.”

Alternatively, if the officers had resorted to using batons in order to help restrain the suspects, they would have sustained far greater injuries that may not have been so justifiable.

Police right to Taser pair who resisted arrest – South Wales Evening Post

Don’t forget to book your place on the Crime Fiction – Making it Real weekend workshop March 2012

Before you can use it, you need to know what it is.

Excited delirium is a condition which is thought to be caused by drugs, alcohol, a psychiatric illness or a combination of these, and may lead someone to struggle against restraint beyond the normal point of exhaustion. Features of excited delirium include agitation, excitability, paranoia, aggression, great strength, numbness to pain and elevated body temperature. It most often comes to light when a person is being arrested or dealt with in a custody suite.  In some cases, the subject can die.

In such cases, police officers can be suspended from duty, accused of or subject to the inference that they were somehow responsible or negligent in dealing with the deceased.

Typically, the police may receive a report of an individual showing signs of physical agitation resulting in their attendance. The individual fails to respond to the officer’s presence and communications or over reacts.  It is recommended that in such cases the subject should be treated as a medical emergency at this point and not a criminal suspect.

However, this is where things often start to go downhill as the lack of reaction or over reaction is then misinterpreted by officer as defiance and at this point the police frequently use force to take charge of the individual.  The officers will go hands on too early, which compounds the situation and raises the risk of sudden death.

English: Police issue X26 TASER

Instead of using force from the outset, the officer should contain the person without crowding them: obtain medical support: calm the person down with only one officer at a time communicating with the subject.  If there is no immediate risk to them or the public, the officer should stand back and resist antagonising the subject or embarking on a physical struggle with them.

It is suggested that the discharge of a Taser to help subdue the subject may only end up contributing to their death as it has been claimed by some that shock can cause cardiac arrest and/or can increase stimulation (adrenaline) and lactic acid levels which causes acidosis which stops the heart.

The more electronic discharges given to a person, the more risk there is.  Instead, if the subject must be tackled, overwhelming physical force should be applied my more than one officer.  However, if they do have to take physical control of the subject, the officer must never obstruct or interfere with their breathing.  Restraints such as handcuffs and Velcro bindings may have to be used.

A. David Berman (“Institute for the Prevention of Deaths in Custody” Vice President) gave (to Sudden Death, Excited Delirium & In-Custody Deaths Conference) examples of clues to a person who may have Excited Delirium and at risk of sudden death:

Psychological Behavioural Clues:

  • Demonstrates intense paranoia (e.g. fearful hiding)
  • Extreme agitation
  • Rapid emotional changes (e.g. laughing, crying, sadness, anger, panic etc.)
  • Disorientated about time and place, time and purpose
  • Disorientated about self (visions of grandeur)
  • Hallucinations (e.g. hears voices, talks to invisible people and/or inanimate objects
  • Delusional
  • Scattered ideas about things
  • Easily distracted (cannot follow commands)
  • Psychotic in appearance
  • Described as “just snapped” or “flipped out”
  • Makes people feel uncomfortable (including officers)

Communication Behavioural Clues

  • Screaming for no apparent reason
  • Pressured, loud, incoherent speech (mumbling)
  • Grunting, guttural sounds
  • Talks to invisible people
  • Irrational speech

Physical Behavioural Clues

  • Demonstrates violent behaviour
  • Demonstrates bizarre behaviour
  • Aggression towards inanimate objects (particularly glass, mirrors, shiny objects and materials)
  • Running into traffic e.g. at parked or oncoming cars
  • Running for no apparent reason, running wildly
  • Stripping naked (trying to get cool)
  • Superhuman strength
  • Resists violently whilst and after being restrained
  • Muscle rigidity
  • Diminished sense of pain
  • Self induced injuries (cuts self with sharp objects)
  • Says “I can’t breathe” (indicative of respiratory distress, escalating into respiratory arrest)

These clues only help identify the person as a high risk candidate for a sudden death and are not a diagnosis.

Could any of the above feature in one of your stories and if so how?

Don’t forget to book your place on the Crime Fiction – Making it Real weekend workshop March 2012

Criminals are increasingly choosing illegally-acquired stun guns as their weapon of choice, a Sky News investigation has revealed.

The devices are sold openly on market stalls in the Far East – and some appear to be smuggled into the UK.

Assistant Chief Constable Sue Fish, of the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), said there was anecdotal evidence that some criminals may be turning to stun guns in the belief they might escape a jail term if caught.

She said: “I think our concern is that we could see an increase around the use of stun guns, because there does seem to be a misguided perception that they are seen as less serious than conventional firearms, when in fact the law views them exactly the same as an illegal gun.”

Stun Guns: Criminals' New Weapon Of Choice

ACPO is to embark on a detailed study of stun gun use by criminals, but at present there are no national statistics on the numbers of such weapons seized by the authorities.

England’s four biggest police forces, who do record stun gun seizures, have recovered around 900 of them since 2008.

Last year, the number of crimes which involved the use of a stun gun in England and Wales stood at 128, an increase of 33% but still only a tiny proportion of overall firearms offences.

However, many crimes involving stun guns may go unreported. There is evidence drug dealers are using the weapons as an enforcement tool and many of their victims – habitual drug users – are reluctant to report their attackers.

Although touted as a weapon of self defence, they are terrifying and potentially deadly in the hands of criminals.

Staff at the West Midlands Air Ambulance charity near Birmingham have faced that horror.

They were recently robbed by masked men carrying stun guns who broke into their head office. They were tied up, held hostage and threatened for almost an hour before the raiders escaped with £12,000.

One of the charity’s managers Jason Levy said: “There were around five or 10 people that were here for a meeting that day and they rounded a number of people up and we were pretty much held hostage here.

“We were put to the floor and at that point we realised there was a Taser gun. We were all pretty calm but pretty concerned about what was happening and what would happen next.”

No-one has yet been arrested in connection with that robbery.

The vast majority of illegally-held stun guns in the UK have been bought overseas.

Asst Ch Con Fish said: “The main source for stun guns is from websites and illegally importing them into this country is a significant criminal offence for the importation as well as the subsequent possession.

“There are two clear criminal offences there. The other way that we are also seeing some weapons being brought in is by people literally bringing them in when they’ve travelled abroad and purchased them and then, either coming in by air, or by vehicle across our borders.”

On a market stall in central Bangkok, they were only too happy to demonstrate for Sky News an array of dangerous weapons, including numerous stun guns.

We were able to buy one for around £15. It was disguised to look like a mobile phone, but the ring tone on this phone came with a 50,000 volt electric shock.

The weapon was disposed of a short time later. However, many are being smuggled into the UK, it seems.

The most recent figures from HM Revenue and Customs estimated around 1,000 such weapons a year are recovered at UK ports and airports.

Keith Vaz, chairman of the Commons’ Home Affairs Select Committee, said: “One of the things we’ve got now is a border police force and therefore it is vital that there is proper monitoring and surveillance of what comes into the country.

“When it concerns a weapon of this kind, that has the potential to kill as well as to stun, it is important that we find out exactly how it’s getting in… who’s able to order this over the internet… and how we can stop it happening.”

Devon and Cornwall police seized 60 mobile phone-type stun guns in two separate operations recently. Detectives believe the weapons originated in the Far East.

They were the exact same type as those we were able to buy legally in Thailand. – Thu, 13 October 2011Courtesy of: ANANOVA

Do you have a criminal that thinks it’s O.K to carry a stun gun as opposed to a firearm?  Do you know which police officers do or can carry and use Tasers?  Could your antagonist use a stun gun to intimidate his victims and enemies?  Let me help you with your dilemmas – drop me a line.