Taser Use Up in Baltimore, Down in State; Blacks Targeted

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While law enforcement agencies across Maryland reduced their reliance on Tasers last year, police in Baltimore increased their use to record levels, reports the Baltimore Sun. City officers accounted for nearly four out of every 10 stun gun incidents in Maryland in 2015, a year when U.S. Justice Department investigators were scrutinizing every use of force by city police. The data is the most recent available. Officers from 47 law enforcement agencies in Maryland reported firing their Tasers at suspects 944 times in 2015, a 3.4 percent decline from the previous year and a 12 percent dip from 2012, when state officials began collecting Taser data.

But Taser use in Baltimore increased 10.5 percent over 2014 and 35 percent since 2012. Across the state, 73 percent of people hit with a police Taser in 2015 were black, up from 69 percent in 2014. In Baltimore, 93 percent of people shot with a Taser were black, up from 88 percent the previous year. The number of black people struck with the stun guns in the city increased 17 percent from 276 in 2014 to 322 in 2015. The number of whites shot by Tasers in Baltimore fell 43 percent, from 30 in 2014 to 17 last year. “They need to do better,” said Tessa Hill-Aston, president of the Baltimore chapter of the NAACP. “They should not be Tasing people just because they get mad when someone is not doing what the police are asking them to do.”

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