Mayor Rahm Emanuel to Give Chicago PD Tasers in 2016

Illustration for article titled Mayor Rahm Emanuel to Give Chicago PD Tasers in 2016

In Chicago, Mayor Rahm Emanuel wants Chicago police to carry tasers and become trained to defuse non-lethal situations with non-lethal weapons and force. What a concept!

The decision follows the deaths of 19-year-old Quintonio LaGrier and 55-year-old Bettie Jones, both black and both killed when the CPD answered a domestic disturbance call last weekend. Emanuel and Interim Police Superintendent John Escalante announced the taser program in a press conference on Wednesday.

On Monday, Anthony LaGrier, the father of CPD’s latest victim, filed a lawsuit against the CPD citing “excessive and unreasonable” force used by cops, which led to his son’s death. On Tuesday night, protesters marched outside Emanuel’s home singing, “Rahm Emanuel’s got to go.”


In a broader stroke, the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund released new numbers disproving a “war on cops,” a common retort to the existence of Black Lives Matter. In fact, according to the Washington Post, there was a decrease of police deaths in 2015, down 14 percent from the previous year. The most common cause of death among the 124 cops killed in the line of duty was citizens refusing to slow down for emergency vehicles. Forty-two deaths were the result of fatal shootings and another 30 were due to various other causes, including “job-related illnesses.”

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Is this really good news? It just seems like the cops have been given a new toy. I’m also not sure if a taser can really be called non lethal.…

Tasers subject their victims to a 50,000 volt shock followed by 100 microsecond pulses of 1,200 volts. Since 2001, more than 500 people in the United States have died after law enforcement officers used this weapon against them. A study published this week by the American Heart Association’s Circulation Journal confirms that the misuse of a Taser can cause sudden cardiac arrest and death.

In theory, a Taser is intended to serve as a non-lethal method of control for law enforcement officers when they need to physically restrain a dangerous person. But as the new Circulation study demonstrates, Tasers cannot so simply be categorized as “non-lethal.” In addition, there are far too many instances in which officers have impulsively deployed Tasers againstchildren, pregnant women and the mentally ill, even though the victims posed no real danger to either the officers or anyone else.

The new evidence that Tasers can cause cardiac arrest and death, coupled with the disturbing trend of officers using Tasers in flagrantly unnecessary situations, makes it all the more troubling that states do not uniformly or consistently govern or regulate officers’ use of Tasers. This means that Taser policies vary greatly between police departments, often leading to vague, outdated and inaccurate guidelines that result in misunderstanding about the misuse of these allegedly non-lethal weapons.