ACLU Study Finds Minnesota Lacks Legal Standard on Taser Use

Affiliate: ACLU of Minnesota
December 14, 2011 12:00 am

ACLU Affiliate
ACLU of Minnesota
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St. Paul, Minn. – The American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota released a report today documenting Taser use policies in Minnesota. In 2006 the ACLU-MN began collecting and analyzing law enforcement Taser policies. This report compiles scholarly research conducted on Tasers and the impact of Taser use on the human body. After thoroughly analyzing the data, the ACLU-MN is also releasing recommendations to law enforcement agencies on best practices regarding Taser use.

The ACLU-MN report raises a number of concerns including:
– The seven deaths that have occurred in Minnesota related to Taser use, despite the fact that Tasers are considered non-lethal force.
– There is no standard policy for Taser use in Minnesota.
– Record keeping on Taser use varies considerably across the State.
– Law enforcement agencies rely overwhelmingly on Taser International, the manufacturer of Tasers, for their training which raises concerns about a conflict of interest.
– There is no standard policy regarding use of Tasers on people suffering mental health crises.

The ACLU-MN issues the following recommendations:
– The ACLU-MN recommends a uniform, statewide use of force continuum which places Tasers higher than hard, empty hands and at least at the same level as a baton.
– Each agency which owns a Taser should have a separate Taser Use Policy which accounts for the risks unique to Taser use such as risk of falling, risks to vulnerable populations, and risk of fire.
– Agencies should have strong restrictions on the use of force on people suffering mental health crises.
– Training for Taser use should address the risks of Tasers more explicitly than the materials provided by Taser International.
– The State of Minnesota should mandate reporting use of Tasers.

“The recommendations we make pose a minimal cost to law enforcement agencies, would be fairly easy to implement, and would provide an important management tool;” stated Chuck Samuelson, Executive Director of the ACLU-MN. “These are common sense recommendations that make good public policy that we hope starts a state-wide conversation about this newer weapon.”

“By not having a reasonable standard law enforcement agencies risk exposure to legal challenges;” added Carolyn Jackson, lobbyist for the ACLU-MN.

For a copy of the report, go to:

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