Thursday night, as part of the , police discussed a topic that : the use of force.
While citizens follow certain rules, police have others. And ultimately, it comes down to what is reasonable, Police Lt. David Burton said.
Burton and Police Officer Richard Morgan taught a three-hour class about when a police officer decides to use a Taser, or fists, or even a gun. Police are allowed to go one step higher than the person they are trying to arrest is coming after them with, but no higher, Burton said.
“The law says you have to do what is reasonable,” he said. “And 12-people in court will decide what is reasonable.”
Morgan said many times police officers are attacked in the media for use of force, but often the entire story is not told. For example, there was a story about a police officer who shot a man who had a gun, and the report was about who shot first. Once a person pulls a gun out, they became a lethal threat to the police officer and the public, Morgan said.
“You have to remember, we are people too, and we want to go home at night,” Morgan said. “I have a wife, children. I want to be able to go home that night.”
As part of the demonstration, Burton showed some of the police department’s non-lethal weapons. Included was pepper spray, pellet guns and a baton.
But the Taser has been the most effective weapon, and has reduced injuries by police officers, he said. The department now has 22 Tasers, and since they’ve been incorporated only one officer has been hurt in duty in five years, compared to an average of two a year before, he said.
“We find them to be effective,” Burton said. “It isn’t the be-all end-all, but they have shown to cut down on injuries.”
Burton said officers have to be tased before they are allowed to use the Taser. As part of the demonstration, he tased police officers Andre Parker and Eric Fredricks.