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“Shocking” Taser Use Renews Debate—OR Cities Consider New Standards

September 26, 2007

Ashland, OR – The recent use of a Taser to subdue a University of Florida student at a public gathering has the nation talking, and it's a particularly timely topic in Oregon, where two local police departments are reconsidering their guidelines for Taser use.

The Ashland Police Department has approved new standards that include extensive training for police officers and full public reports of any incident involving Taser use. The changes come after an American Civil Liberties Union investigation into a fatal Taser incident in Ashland in 2006. David Fidanque with the ACLU of Oregon says Tasers should only be used when there's a real danger to officers or bystanders.

"Police shouldn't use Tasers to coerce compliance from people they're trying to take into custody that represent no real safety threat to them or anyone else. The risk of death is very real and has to be taken into account when officers deploy them."

The Eugene Police Department doesn't currently use Tasers, but is considering a pilot program starting this fall. Most people agree Tasers are less lethal than firearms, but some agencies and the ACLU disagree over whether they should be used in situations that aren't life-threatening.

Dondrea Warner/Chris Thomas, Public News Service - OR