taser

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - Detroit's police chief says his department needs stun guns, especially after an officer was attacked with a razor blade.

  Chief James Craig tells The Detroit News that he's talked to the mayor about purchasing Tasers. He acknowledges they're controversial and is open to a public discussion about their use.

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan's prison system is crediting the introduction of Tasers for a drop in attacks on its employees.

The Michigan Department of Corrections issued the electronic stunning devices in five prisons in December 2011 and expanded the deployment system-wide last year.

The Lansing State Journal says a Michigan prison employee uses a Taser on a prisoner about twice a day. It says there have been 576 Taserings since Oct. 1, 2012.

user Rama / Wikimedia Commons

The American Civil Liberties Union is raising questions about how Michigan police officers and sheriff’s deputies use tasers.

Tasers have become an important tool for law enforcement agencies across Michigan.    The devices are used to incapacitate individuals with a high voltage electric shock.

But the ACLU says there is not a uniform policy among Michigan law enforcement agencies for when to use a taser.

Stun Guns
user Rama / Wikimedia Commons

A court has ruled Michigan’s ban on private citizens owning Tasers and stun guns violates the right to bear arms that is protected in the state and federal constitutions.

Michigan’s ban on Tasers and stun guns will be relaxed come August. That’s when a new state law will allow people with concealed weapons permits to carry the devices. These cases date back to 2011 and 2010. A convenience store worker was arrested for carrying a stun gun on the job; another person was arrested in his home for possession of an illegal weapon.

The non-lethal devices rely on a surge of electricity to disable their targets. The Michigan Court of Appeals says the weapons are not sufficiently dangerous or unusual to be banned. The court did not address restrictions like Michigan’s new concealed weapon license requirements.

People with concealed pistol permits in Michigan will soon be able to carry Tasers. Governor Rick Snyder signed the bill into law today.

The rules will be the same as those that apply to people authorized to carry firearms in Michigan. 

"They will have to get the same training," said state Senator Rick Jones, who  sponsored the legislation. "It's a minimum of eight hours that tells a license holder when they can fire their device, and when they cannot. A Taser will be treated like a handgun under Michigan law, so nobody can play with them."

Here is a video of then-state Rep. Jones getting shot by a Taser during a House committee hearing:

More than a quarter-million people in Michigan have concealed pistol licenses. Michigan joins 44 other states that allow people to carry Tasers in public.

(courtesy of Guyism.com)

There’s a new study from Michigan State University that finds stun guns, when used by police officers, are more likely to cause injuries to civilians than previously believed.

Its becoming more common for police officers to carry stun guns. The weapons deliver a high voltage electric charge subduing combative individuals. The weapons are marketed as being ‘non-harmful’.    

But MSU criminologist Bill Terrill disagrees.

"It’s clearly not the case in our studies," says Terrill, "In fact, they have significant greater percentage of injuries when officers use a Taser as opposed to using other types of force.”

Steve Tuttle is a spokesman for Taser, the largest manufacturer of stun guns.  Pointing to other studies, he says the MSU study’s numbers are inflated. Tuttle says the type of minor puncture wounds and burns caused by most stun guns are hardly significant injuries.

"We would be seeing challenges in court if there were significant injuries from these and we’re not," says Tuttle.

MSU researchers also found police officers who use a stun gun to subdue an individual are half as likely to be injured as an officer who uses a different non-lethal method. 

The state corrections department plans to test the use of tasers in four state prisons.   

The pilot program is intended to see if the electro-shock devices can be effective when dealing with unruly and uncooperative prison inmates. 

Andy Potter is the vice president of the state prison guards union. He says the  union has wanted to arm guards with tasers for years.  

Potter says "being able to utilize them when an inmate is being disruptive just makes sense.”     

The American Civil Liberties Union is raising some concerns about the plan. The ACLU says the corrections department should implement clear guidelines for the use of tasers so that they are not misused.  

Tasers are used by many law enforcement agencies, but their use has been criticized by groups who point to incidents of abuse and even death.