The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Police should think twice before Tasing

By Whitney Fitts

A drunken student got Tased on his way to Crimson Nights on Sept. 1. To be sure, this kid was acting like an idiot and definitely got what was coming to him. However, Taser use has been on the rise, and the lack of hesitation with which cops are willing to use their Tasers is frightening.

Tasers were invented to incapacitate people, said Sgt. Arb Nordgran of the U Police Department. The shock disrupts a person’s sensory and motor skills.

There have been a lot of sketchy things about Tasers in the news during the past few months, including the death of 32-year-old Brian Cardall. Taking this into consideration, the first thing I did after reading about this incident was to look up the laws regarding Tasers and their appropriate usage. Everything the campus police did was legitimate.

According to the reasonable force test used to determine when a Taser should be employed, it is reasonable to use a Taser when someone is trying to “evade arrest by flight.” This kid ran away and he got Tased. That’s what happens. But did it need to happen? Yes, legally it was OK, and yes, he was running away. But if the police were running fast enough to catch up to him then they didn’t need the Taser. Cardall died on a Utah highway in June precisely because police were too willing to use their Tasers.
“It’s not our standard procedure (to Tase students), but we do have a major hospital on campus,” said Capt. Lynn Mitchell of the U Police.

Are you kidding me? When the Fourth Amendment states “the right of the people to be secure in their persons,” I take that as meaning the right to not have to worry about the cops sending me to the hospital.

It’s just a little unsettling that the convenient location of the U hospital would make Mitchell more comfortable with Tasing a student. Tasers have generally been accepted as safe, but Taser injuries8212;and even deaths8212;are not unheard of or even that uncommon. Does that seem contradictory to anyone else?

Tasing has become a cop-out. It’s used way too often and in situations where it could easily have been avoided. In an intense situation, I would much rather be Tased than shot, but ideally neither. Just like there should be serious thought before officers bring out their guns, there should also be some serious thought before bringing out their Tasers.

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