Taser fuss

By Anna Sandiford 19/07/2010

NZ Police have recently issued a press release to assure the population that there is nothing wrong with the tasers they are using and that a few unsuccessful discharges are to be expected. In fact, the taser trial involved a 12.5% failure rate (2/16) compared with a 13.3% failure rate in the field (4/30) – comparable figures although perhaps the trial was not the largest n ever seen.

The NZ Police press release was in response to media articles about the inefficiency of tasers including the recent case where a police dog was fatally shot and two police officers were shot and wounded (Taser unsuccessfully discharged).

However, I don’t recall seeing any news items about a case where the use of a taser saved the life of the man the Police were attempting to detain (perhaps I’m wrong and it was headline news but I don’t remember seeing it). On 18 June this year, Waikato Police attended Te Kuiti’s main street just after midnight where ambulance staff had been trying to treat a man who was bleeding heavily and who was also known by the Police to have a history of mental illness. The injured man was subdued by Police with a taser and he was then transported in an ambulance to hospital. It wasn’t until after the subdued man was in the ambulance that everyone realised he had sustained a cut to his artery. Apparently, if the man had not been subdued and therefore treated relatively quickly, he would have bled to death.

Now that’s the sort of story that I think should be reported on the 6 o’clock news – let’s have something positive as well as the usual negative.