Green Party Calls for Moratorium on Tasers in Suffolk

[From Green Party of Suffolk]

Green Party Calls for Moratorium on Tasers in Suffolk

"The Green Party of Suffolk is outraged to discover that Suffolk County has been using Tasers against its residents," said its chair Roger Snyder. "It is inconceivable that Suffolk has continued to use Tasers after residents have died after being tasered."

Snyder outlined the Green Party's plan to protect the lives of Suffolk residents: "In line with its pillar of nonviolence, the Green Party of Suffolk demands Suffolk County seek out ways to avoid the use of easily abused and potentially lethal Tasers. As an immediate step, the Green Party of Suffolk calls on the county to put a moratorium on the use or purchase of any Tasers. In the long term, the Green Party calls on the county to train the police in nonviolent methods of resolving situations."

The existence of Taser use in Suffolk County was brought to light by the death of a Darryl Bain after he was tasered by the Suffolk Police. According to Newsday, Bain is the fourth person to die after being tasered by Suffolk Police. Amnesty International USA has found that 350 people died in the United States and Canada after being shot by Tasers since June 2001.

The heavy-handed use of Tasers in Suffolk is striking. According to Newsday, "Suffolk police have 669 Tasers, and supervisors hope to arm most patrol cops with one." The large number of Tasers has created an explosion in their use in Suffolk. Newsday also reports "Tasers were used 44 times in 2006, 53 times in 2007, 65 times in 2008 and 146 times so far this year."

The dangerous nature of Tasers is well-known. Amnesty International released a report on December 16, 2008 that labeled Tasers as "Potentially Lethal and Easy to Abuse." Angela Wright, US researcher at Amnesty International and author of the report said that "Tasers are not the 'non-lethal' weapons they are portrayed to be. They can kill and should only be used as a last resort."

The Amnesty International report showed that abuse of Tasers is widespread. The Amnesty report "found that 90 per cent of those who died after being struck with a Taser were unarmed and many did not appear to present a serious threat. Many were subjected to repeated or prolonged shocks – far more than the five-second "standard" cycle – or by more than one officer at a time. Some people were even shocked for failing to comply with police commands after they had been incapacitated by a first shock." The report found that Tasers were used against persons with "medical conditions such as seizures." It also found that "police officers also used Tasers on schoolchildren, pregnant women and even an elderly person with dementia."