Last year I posted over on the Shoup blog about an incident in which UCLA security guards tasered a student 5 times in the Library. The accompanying video seems to show a situation in which, in my opinion, security guards indulge themselves in an entirely unnecessary power trip. You can read more of my response in the link above
Yesterday at a debate with Senator Kerry, security guards at the University of Florida used a taser on a student who went over his alloted question time:
I showed this to a friend and his response was that the student seems to be deliberately escalating the situation. Personally, I find the situation disturbing because of how quickly the security guards escalate the situation in the first place, by grabbing him. What do all of you think?
Aside from the questions of free speech this video raises is the question of the situations in which security guards or police officers choose to use tasers. After the incident at UCLA, the university commissioned an independent investigation, which said:
We find that one UCLAPD officer violated UCLA use of force policies in the incident. We further conclude that UCLAPD’s current policies are, in any event, unduly permissive, giving the police unnecessary latitude, and are inconsistent with the policies of other universities and leading police departments across the country, including other University of California campuses, the LAPD, and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD). The UCLAPD policy stands alone in its legitimization of the Taser as a pain compliance device against passive resisters.
The last sentence is a key one for those who commit acts of passive resistance to police officers. What pain compliance techniques are likely to be used in these situations? In the St. Patrick’s day incident I wrote about last spring police officers threatened people with a taser but ended up using physical grappling instead to “subdue” members of the parade.
Don’t university cops have YouTube, too? These people work in the most visible environments in the world, where every witness has both a cellphone cam and a broadband connection and knows how to use them. You’d suppose that after just one of these well-publicized incidents, every campus P.D. in the nation would decide that whatever advantage there might be in using the Taser, the inevitable fallout is too much.
Of course, it’s important to remember in this discussion that this kind of behavior and much worse happens off video, usually to people of color and/or those without power. The recent story in New York in which NYPD veteran says cops beat, Tasered teen son at barbecue seems to be a situation in which police underestimated the connections of one young African-American man.