Report reveals taser use in Hamilton County - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

Report reveals taser use in Hamilton County

Posted: Updated: Oct 1, 2012 10:10 PM

A new report reveals information on taser use by law enforcement agencies in Hamilton County.

The survey was compiled by the law firm of Gerhardstein and Branch Co. LPA and based on public record requests to all law enforcement agencies in Hamilton County. 

"I didn't expect to have this much non-compliance with good practice," Attorney Al Gerhardstein said. "This is a surprise."

A meeting was held on Monday afternoon to discuss the results of the survey.

Among the findings:

  • 94% of agencies' materials do not adequately warn that Tasers can capture the heart rhythm of the subject, possibly leading to death.
  • 67% of policies permit upper chest shots despite the manufacturer's warning moving the preferred target zone away from the upper chest.
  • 70% of policies do not instruct officers to consider the seriousness of the crime before deciding whether or not to use the Taser.
  • 33% policies do not specifically instruct officers to consider the risk of secondary impact of falling from an elevated surface subsequent to Taser use.
  • 27% of policies do not restrict Taser use on vulnerable populations such as juveniles, elderly individuals, or the visibly pregnant
  • 100% of policies fail to require that Taser output be tested to ensure that the actual performance of the device is within manufacturer's specifications.
  • 73% of policies do not require an investigation that includes a data download from the Taser's memory chip after use to independently verify the number and duration of shocks delivered to the subject.
  • 15% of policies explicitly authorize officers to use their Taser on a fleeing subject, regardless of the crime or the threat to the public.

"We have had four Taser related deaths in four years in Hamilton County and we need to reform these policies now in order to protect our residents," said Al Gerhardstein, study author and civil rights attorney. 

Armed with the survey, community leaders plan to start a taskforce to improve policies county-wide.

"I think we have a road map for every police force in our area to do what they do and do it safely," said Reverend Damon Lynch of New Prospect Baptist Church.

The parents of Everette Howard, the teen Tased on UC's campus who later died, showed up to New Prospect Monday to hear the results of the survey.

"It's the first step in progress in safety for Tasers, safety for people who are having the Tasers used against them," Travonna Howard said.

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