Editorial: Deputies’ use of stun gun was appropriate
Churchill County sheriff’s deputies recently took a little heat over their decision to use a stun gun to subdue man who shoved a deputy to the ground while breaking up a fight at the Battle of the Bands during the 2006 Cantaloupe Festival.
The criticism stems from reports that a few bystanders received a jolt when they came into contact with electrically charged wires connected to electroshock, or Taser gun, probes cast aside by the assailant.
While any contact with this device by innocent bystanders is indeed unfortunate, criticism of the deputies involved is misdirected.
Blame for this mishap belongs to the individual who decided it was OK to allegedly assault a police officer and the people who chose to endanger the public and each other by engaging in fisticuffs in a public place reserved for family activities.
It is easy to play Monday-morning quarterback and second-guess the actions of police officers after the fact, but fortunately no one knows to what extent a quick, decisive and measured response by the sheriff’s department avoided personal injury. The good news is that no one, including the alleged perpetrators, suffered any permanent bodily damage, which is a credit to the professionalism of the sheriff’s department.
This incident also points out the tremendous benefit of Tasers – their ability to subdue criminals without using lethal force. In fact, most people who are “Tased” recover within a few minutes of being shocked. This is why over the past five or six years, Tasers have become a mainstay of virtually every police arsenal in the country. They reduce shooting fatalities.
Despite the obvious advantages, electroshock guns are not foolproof or without controversy. Civil-liberty groups contend that stun guns are much more deadly than many people think, especially to children and people under the influence of drugs. Others say Tasers put people at risk for the opposite reason – because they are too weak to bring some criminals down. The bottom line is any weapon, including stun guns, is only as good as the people and training behind it.
When it comes right down to it, there aren’t many people under these circumstances who would want to trade places with the cops.
It’s dangerous business, and they deserve the best training and tools that money can buy.
– From the Lahontan Valley News in Fallon, Nev.
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