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Monday, December 10, 2007

Frederick NAACP Continues Call for Independent Investigation on Use of Tasers

Guy Djoken
NAACP Frederick County, Maryland Branch

After reading the letter to the editor written by Mr. Alan Caho, past president of Frederick County Lodge 102 of the Fraternal Order of Police published in the Frederick News-Post on Sunday, December 9, 2007, I realized that it was imperative for me address his charge of misinformation about Tasers and rebuff his assertions.

According Mr. Caho, "The Taser is not a weapon of last resort, but a very modern instrument that uses an electrical charge to temporarily incapacitate an individual and basically take the will to fight out of him or her.

After reading this statement, I was thankful that Mr. Caho is not an active member of the law enforcement. In all the cases we have looked at closely recently, none of the Taser victims were under arrest, nor were they fighting the officers. I am not sure if the training given to the deputies carrying Tasers provide them with the psychic ability of looking at someone and determining that they have the will to fight.

Please note that Mr. Caho did not say that the weapon is used to temporarily incapacitate an individual fighting or resisting arrest as I was told until the moment I read his letter. For him, it is clear that the weapon should be used "to take the fight out of him or her".

If the situation was not as tragic as it is today as a result of us losing a bright and intelligent young man who had previously been harassed over and over again by the same deputy who used the Taser twice on him, I would have send Mr. Caho a thank you letter for making our case. Suggesting from his vantage point that the weapon is to be used not as a last resort but routinely to take the will to fight out of those in the process of being arrested".

This reasoning seems to fits perfectly with those expressed by Mr. Patrick J. McAndrew, attorney of the Fraternal Order of Police who characterized the tasering of a student on school grounds last November 8th by Cpl. Maybush as "heroic." After those comments, the NAACP called for clarifications in the hope that Mr. Patrick J. McAndrew, or the Fraternal Order of Police would clarify these comments we find very troubling.

To Mr. Caho and others claiming that "Tasers have been proven safe", I will like to point them to the TASER International website.

On their website it clearly states the following:
for a subject in a state known as "excited delirium", repeated or prolonged stuns with the Taser can contribute to "significant and potentially fatal health risks". In such a state, physical restraint by the police coupled with the exertion by the subject are considered likely to result in death or more injuries.

Furthermore, TASER International has admitted in a training bulletin that repeated blasts of a taser can "impair breathing and respiration". Contrary to Mr. Caho's assertions, Tasers were introduced as a less-lethal weapon with the intention to be used by police to subdue fleeing, belligerent, or potentially dangerous suspects, often when a lethal weapon would have otherwise been used; that is, to many of us, a situation of last resort.

During a press conference on the death of Jarrel Cortez Gray last week, Frederick County Sheriff "Chuck" Jenkins announced that his office has ordered an independent study on the use of Tasers by a firm he will not reveal.

If the Frederick County Sheriff is serious about an independent investigation on the use of Tasers, he will suspend their use pending the results of the studies; unless he is pretty certain that the results of such a study will vindicate his statement about the "proven safety" of the Tasers. Many have questioned the argument for keeping the investigative firm secret. We deserve and request transparency by the Sheriff on this matter.

To join your voice on our request for an independent investigation, please visit and sign our petition.

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