The harmful effects of Tasers are real—not just to the body, but to the mind. At the heels of yearlong study published by the Miami New Times, Lauren Kirchner from Pacific Standard has compiled a list of scientific studies that question the use of Tasers as a “safer” alternative to a firearm.
The report from the New Times shows the lethal effects of Tasers on an isolated population and how freely they’re used by the police force of Miami-Dade—seemingly without thought of the repercussions. In less than eight years, the Miami-Dade Police has used their Tasers over 3,000 times. Eleven men have died in that time, and five within the past 16 months. What’s more, there are documented cases where tasers have been used on unarmed, non-threatening pedestrians, citing several examples where police shocked a 12-year-old girl for skipping school and 6-year-old boy.
These abuses could be an isolated incident, but the threats Tasers pose to health, mental well-being, and civil rights are cause for concern. Kirchner references a study that shows how these shocks from Tasers can cause abnormal heart rhythms and have the potential to send people into a cardiac arrest. But the shock carries another caveat to people’s mental well-being.
Those hit by a Taser suffer “significant reductions in several measures of cognitive functioning,” according to a study published in the Journal of Experimental Criminology. Researchers measured memory, leaning, and coordination three hours before new police recruits were tasered, and then five minutes after and 24 hours after. The researchers noted the participants seemed to be back to normal after 24 hours. However, they noted concern for what could happen if police decided to arrest an individual directly after they’d been tased–unable to fully waive or understand their Miranda rights.
It’s important for officers to fully understand the repercussions a shock from a Taser can have. Especially, for officers that don’t understand the weight of the weapon they carry that they feel they can use it on kids. Check out Kichner’s full review on Pacific Standard.
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