Don't shoot: electric current in the service of the police
Ihor Klymenko, The Head of the National Police of Ukraine Police General of the second rank, PhD (Psychology)
It is estimated that the use of tasers has saved more than 220,000 lives worldwide. Police in 107 countries are armed with these teleactive shock electronic repulsion means. Most of these countries are developed democracies, where the protection of human rights is a priority.
How does the taser work?
The advantage of this special tool is that a police officer at a safe distance can neutralize the attacker with the least traumatic consequences for him. The range of the shot reaches 7.5 meters and the speed is 55 meters per second.
Inside the device are two conductive wires that are fired when a police officer pulls the trigger. An electric impulse is transmitted through special darts, which instantly immobilizes a person, temporarily paralyzing the muscular system.
It is important that the taser is the safest police means of coercion. It immobilizes a person, blocks his/her movements for a short period. During this time the police officer will be able to handcuff the offender and avoid the escalation of the conflict. Thus, the use of a taser reduces the risk of injury not only for the offender, but also for the police officer and the surrounding people.
You can use the taser as a contact electric shocker, i.e. without firing the wires. In this case, the person feels only pain, without immobilization of muscles. This effect is enough to calm the brawler in direct contact.
In general, electric shockers have a certain preventive feature. After all, a person is wary of electric current since childhood. This is a formed psychological reaction to the parents' stories about the terrible consequences of pranks with electrical outlets or electrical appliances. The sound of the current itself causes negative associations, so sometimes only the appearance of the electric shocker and the sound of a charge can make the offender stop and surrender to the police.
Legislative obstacles to the effective use of tasers by the National Police
Over the next few years, we plan to equip with tasers each police patrol, assault units of the Rapid Response Corps “KORD” and Special Police Force regiments, as well as community police officers.
So far, we have purchased 200 such tasers with all the components, and more than a dozen police officers have already taken instructor courses from the manufacturer. This is the first step towards full use of tasers in everyday work.
But there is a regulatory obstacle: in the current legislation the conditions for the use of electric shockers are too limited. Thus, Article 45 of the Law of Ukraine “On the National Police” stipulates that a police officer may use such special means as contact and remote electric shockers to repel an attack on a police officer, another person and / or a guarded object, and to repel an attack by an animal that threatens the life and health of a person or police officer. During every shift the law enforcement officers detain citizens for committing offenses, and the latter often show disobedience and resistance, which in some cases leads to the use of firearms with traumatic and even fatal consequences.
Here are some examples:
- in 2016 in Khmelnytskyi region during detention of the man who wounded several citizens by a metal sharpened shank in the middle of the street, patrol police officers had to shoot at the brawler. Unfortunately, he died of the injuries;
- in 2018 in Lviv region during documenting of the administrative offence (a road accident) the driver rushed away and cut a policewoman with a knife during his detention. Her partner had to use a firearm, injuring the fugitive. This was the only way to detain the offender.
These are situations that could have been avoided if police officers had been able to use a taser instead of a lethal weapon.
Tasers as an alternative to firearms
Of course, when discussing any innovations, it is impossible to talk only about the benefits. There are disadvantages of using tasers and I'm sure most of you will search for this information in the Internet on your own. And will find stories with a tragic ending. But, unfortunately, no special device can be completely safe. The advantage of tasers is that they carry the lowest risk of injury to the detainee compared to the other means of non-contact action.
Given the predominant positive experience of using tasers in the world and their main "plus" - minimizing injuries to the offender while performing police functions, it is time for changes to the Law "On the National Police". In particular, it is necessary to expand the list of grounds on which it will be allowed to use such a special means as the taser.
In particular, in cases of detention of a person who:
- has committed a serious or particularly serious offense and is trying to escape or resists a police officer;
- performs armed resistance or tries to escape from custody;
- threatens with a weapon or any other object that menaces human life or health.
At the same time it will be necessary to determine the categories of persons against whom it is forbidden to apply the tasers, such as minors and juveniles, pregnant women, people with obvious signs of disability or old age.
In fact, the grounds and conditions of use of tasers will be similar to firearms. With such an alternative the police officer will be able to use a less traumatic method of detention and minimize the likelihood of inflicting injury to the offender. And this is an absolute advantage!
Yes, the tasers are needed. The legislative changes are needed. And we are very much counting on the support of the Verkhovna Rada, because these innovations is another step forward in the humanization of police activities in particular and paying respect to human rights in general.