Baltimore police cut their use of Tasers nearly in half in 2016, a year when commanders put new limits on when officers can fire the stun guns, the Baltimore Sun reports. The police department reported 181 Taser incidents in 2016, a 46 percent decline from the record high of 347 the agency recorded in 2015. The drop occurred even as the department equipped dozens of more officers with the weapons last year. “This proves that good policies, thoughtfully implemented, can and do change behavior,” police spokesman T. J. Smith said.
Commissioner Kevin Davis issued a new a policy in July that required officers to use Tasers only when suspects display “active aggression,” a standard that conforms to a recent federal court ruling and widely accepted best practices. The previous standard allowed police to shock individuals simply for failing to follow an officer’s orders. The policy changes came four months after the Sun revealed widespread misuse of Tasers in Baltimore and police departments across the state. Baltimore police exceeded recommended safety limits for Tasers more than any other force in Maryland, and in nearly all cases officers fired the weapon at suspects who did not pose a threat.