Four Tarrant County police departments stop Taser use - Dallas News | myFOXdfw.com

Four Tarrant County police departments stop Taser use

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Some local police officers won't be reaching for their tasers in the line of duty because their departments have pulled the shock weapons.

Four Tarrant County police departments have decided to ban the use of Tasers.

Burleson, Crowley, Mansfield and Richland Hills police decided in the last 24 hours to no longer use Tasers.

Sources told FOX4 the decision comes after a meeting between local law enforcement agencies devices where new warnings about Tasers were discussed.

City attorneys apparently weighed in about a warning from the manufacturer that using the Taser "could result in death or serious injury."

A local attorney said the move is all about liability.

"Well now what Taser can do is say, ‘Police department we told you that these devices could cause serious injury or death. It's your policy that caused the injury to this person so we're out of it'," said attorney Pete Shulte.

Other Tarrant County police departments told FOX4 they are also reviewing their Taser policies.

"You can't do anything when you've been tased," said Catherine Torrez, the former Cockrell Hill police chief and taser advocate.

The effects of the electric volts have been well-documented on YouTube.

The taser has long been marketed as the lower-risk, high voltage non-lethal alternative for restraint.

"We have issues of people that have mental health issues, or they're hopped up on drugs, especially PCP. An officer tells them to stop, they may not be able to respond the way a normal, right-minded person would. In those cases, a taser is an incredibly effective tool trying to spare their life," said Torrez.

Torrez believes the taser's benefits outweigh its risks. However, the heightened concern about death or serious injury got the attention of several departments at a law enforcement conference.

"I understand from a command position, the chiefs are looking at liability. I also look equally at the liability of removing a tool from an officer's hand and him having to shoot the person instead of using less than lethal force," said Torrez.

Torrez, who is not associated with these departments, hopes this is just a temporary move while chiefs look at the weapon and their own policies.

"It's important the officers' tools not be taken away," said Torrez.
 
FOX4 contacted Taser, and the Arizona-based manufacturer says the health and safety warnings changed a few years ago.

The representative said the reason departments are pulling it now is because of what he called a miscommunication.

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