Police officers have been criticized for the improper and inhumane use of their weapons.
According to The Washington Post police officers “go-to” weapon is their taser, but in Montgomery County officers try not to use their tasers when trying to subdue people. Despite this, there have been 11 fatal incidents due to taser force by a police officer, four involving Montgomery County police officers.
According to Baltimore Sun, 51 year old Anthony Howard died from taser force in 2013. “Two Montgomery County officers fired their tasers at Howard nine times for a total of 37 seconds. He died shortly afterward.” The Sun found that officers frequently failed to follow the best practices identified by the U.S. Department of Justice and Taser International, the only stun-gun brand used by law enforcement in Maryland. In three of the four deaths, Montgomery County officers activated the devices for longer than 15 seconds — the recommended limit — and as long as 108 seconds.
Three days after the Baltimore Sun ran their article about the use of tasers by Montgomery County police officers, the department began reviewing the taser policy on March 22. The department held a County Committee meeting regarding the policy. Police are in the process of purchasing new tasers with enhanced safety mechanisms. The devices shoot two prongs at individuals and deliver an electric shock, often incapacitating them.
According to Bethesda Magazine, Assistant Chief Luther Reynolds said the department has 540 Tasers in use and 340 of them are older models. The other 200 are newer models that include a safety feature that cuts off the electrical current and begins beeping after five seconds of use. Reynolds said the department plans to shift its entire inventory to a newer model. The police officials at the meeting said the new model’s beeping alert can help officers, who often deploy tasers in chaotic situations, to realize how long they have been using the device on a person.