Denver Police Chief Gerry Whitman has rewritten the department’s Taser policy, blocking its use in all but violent incidents, says the Rocky Mountain News. The new policy allows officers to use a Taser only on suspects exhibiting “active aggression” or “aggravated active aggression.” More than 80 percent of the police Taser usage already was at the active aggression level, Whitman said. “Those statistics indicate the officers used considerable restraint in their use of the Taser and use of force.” Between March 23, 2003, and March 24, 2004, Denver police used Tasers 236 times. About 20 percent of those uses fell under the previous lower standard of “defensive resistance.”
The decision to change the policy came after Whitman met with Dr. Carlin Long, Denver Health Medical Center’s chief of cardiology. Long reviewed more than 20 studies, concluding that while the electric shock from a Taser can startle the system, causing a momentary increase in heart rate, it likely would not lead to death by itself. The department had a possible Taser-connected death on Aug. 19. Kevin Karlo, 44, died after four jolts from a Taser. His girlfriend said he was overdosing on cocaine at the time.