The International Association of Chiefs of Police, which has advised thousands of its members on the appropriate use of stun guns, accepted a $300,000 donation from the foundation associated with Taser International, the biggest supplier of stun guns to law enforcement, USA Today reports. The contribution to the IACP Foundation, the organization’s philanthropic arm, is the latest in a series of controversial relationships Taser has established with police, the primary source of the Arizona-based company’s lucrative business. The rapid deployment of stun guns across the country and questions related to their safety, prompted the IACP in 2007 to publish guidelines for “selecting, acquiring and using” the devices. The study was funded by the Justice Department’s National Institute of Justice.
IACP and Taser officials said they found nothing wrong with the gift, saying the contribution — the largest-ever to the association foundation — would provide funds to families of officers killed in the line of duty. Law enforcement and criminal justice analysts said the donation raises questions about the IACP’s ability to engage in future reviews involving the technology and whether the contribution represented a de-facto endorsement. “When you accept that kind of donation, you create an impression that you view the product favorably,” said Jim Pasco of the Fraternal Order of Police, the nation’s largest police union. “There is an appearance issue here.” Samuel Walker, a University of Nebraska criminologist who has written extensively on police accountability issues, said the relationship “raises serious concerns.” “It’s like a non-profit (group) taking funds from the tobacco industry and being involved in studies on smoking and lung cancer,” he said.