Review Suggests Restraints On Use Of Tasers By Portland Police


Portland, Ore., police should consider further restraints on when officers can use the Taser stun gun to stop a threat, and the department should make clear in its written policy that officers should fire a minimum number of stun cycles against a suspect, according to a city audit reported by the Oregonian. A review of 50 random Portland police firings of the Taser in 2009 showed they were mostly effective in resolving incidents, although police fired multiple cycles in about one-fifth of those cases. Officers often used more than one Taser cycle to gain a suspect’s compliance; they used four or more cycles in slightly more than 20 percent of the cases examined.

City Auditor LaVonne Griffin-Valade had the Audit Services Division conduct the review to determine how the bureau’s policies compare with national models and if officers are following directives that are in place. Tasers are considered a less lethal weapon, designed to temporarily incapacitate or restrain a person when lethal force is not appropriate. In 2005, the bureau issued Tasers to all of its officers. Currently, Portland police are authorized to use a Taser when a person engages in or threatens physical resistance. Portland’s policy is more permissive than model guidelines in that it allows Taser use when the subject shows only the intent to resist police and that it doesn’t require medical response for each use.

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