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  1. #1
    keith720's Avatar
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    Tasing Minorities

    Tasers used more on minorities, Madison police data show
    By CHRIS RICKERT
    608-252-6198
    crickert@madison.com
    Nearly six years after Madison police began arming officers with Tasers and four years after the controversial Tasering of a black high school student, police department records suggest minorities have the weapons used against them at a rate far out of proportion with how often they are arrested.
    Minorities — especially blacks — were Tasered more than twice as often as whites last year, and more often than whites in three of the last five. In the other two years, about as many whites were Tasered as nonwhites. In each of the five years, nonwhites were arrested for about half as many crimes as whites.
    Mark P. Jones, a professor at Rice University who last year co-authored a first-of-its-kind study that found a similar pattern in the use of Tasers by the Houston Police Department, said Madison’s Taser data is not enough to prove bias in their use. But he said it is worthy of closer study.

    • Descriptions of every Madison police Taser use since 2003
    • Graphic: Arrests, Taser use by race

    “What these data point out is that there’s potentially a problem,” said Jones.
    Madison police question the validity of comparing arrest data with Taser use and contend that every Taser deployment is reviewed after the fact to see if it was appropriate and conformed to policy.
    “It would be important to look at the facts in each case,” said Capt. Vic Wahl, who oversaw the program when it was first introduced. “The review process has worked. It’s not just a rubber stamp.”
    'It has saved lives'
    Madison police first started buying Tasers — which deliver a non-lethal electric shock to a person — and training officers to use them in 2003. Taser International, which makes them, and police contend they help cut down on injuries to officers and suspects who might otherwise have to be physically brought under control.
    Police Chief Noble Wray contends the program has been a success to date, saying “There are countless incidents that we have come up with where it has saved lives.”
    Their early use in Madison was not without controversy, however.
    On Jan. 21, 2005, a 14-year-old black student at Memorial High School was Tasered as he was pulling away from an officer who was arresting him at school on what turned out to be a mistakenly issued warrant.
    The incident and subsequent criticism — including allegations by the boy’s mother that the incident was racially motivated — led the department to implement a more restrictive policy on the use of the Tasers. In general, police now may use Tasers only to subdue violent subjects or to prevent a suicide but not to stop a fleeing suspect or on someone who is in handcuffs or otherwise restrained.
    The boy, Dalarence Goodwin, and his mother, Laquitha, in 2007 settled a lawsuit over the incident in which the Madison School District and the city paid the two $2,500 but admitted no liability.
    The raw numbers
    Police have been tracking information about every Taser deployment since they first came into use in July 2003. Those data show that from the start of the Taser program through late April, police have used Tasers against whites 118 times and against blacks 145 times, and against Asian and Hispanic suspects 19 times.
    Over roughly the same period — from the beginning of 2003 through April 24 — there were 61,662 arrests of adults for crimes in which the suspect was white, and 31,839 in which the suspect was black, native American or Asian. The vast majority of the nonwhite arrests were of black suspects.
    Hispanics, who make up only about 5.7 percent of the city’s population, are counted as white in the arrest figures, which represent the number of crimes committed for which arrests are made.
    According to Census estimates, Madison is about 82 percent white and about 6.5 percent black.
    Minor offenses skew results?
    Wray noted that included in the department’s annual arrest numbers are minor offenses such as ordinance violations “that would generally not involve someone deploying a Taser.”
    Whites have historically been arrested far more often for such minor offenses, including liquor law violations and disorderly conduct, while blacks and whites are arrested in more similar numbers for offenses such as assault and drug violations.
    Still, more than half of those subdued using Tasers were not suspected of committing serious crimes, according to summaries of the incidents provided to the State Journal.
    While the reports do not identify a specific offense, they show that 145 of the 267 people who were Tasered through 2008 were arrested on suspected misdemeanors.
    Seventy-six were arrested on misdemeanors and felonies, seven were arrested on felonies only and one was arrested on an ordinance violation. The remaining 38 were not arrested but were violent or otherwise considered a threat for reasons including mental health problems or intoxication.
    The one thing most of the incidents have in common, however, is a combative suspect. In more than 80 percent of Taserings, suspects were alleged to have been either fleeing or resisting arrest, violent toward police or others, or threatening violence.
    Comparisons difficult
    “Any time a Taser is deployed, that is not something a law enforcement officer wants to happen,” Wray said, but he contended that it’s often done to protect a suspect from further injury.
    Although police collect lots of information on arrests, Wray said the department doesn’t yet have the tools to do a more detailed data analysis of why nonwhite suspects are being Tasered more often than white suspects, and whether bias might play a role.
    “It is very difficult to get an exact apples-to-apples comparison if arrests are your benchmark,” he said.
    Jones, the Rice University researcher, attempted to go beyond that. He and his co-researchers pored over police incident reports to gauge how a variety of factors — including the officer’s race and the type of incident — might play roles in the decision to use a Taser in Houston.
    They uncovered a statistically “robust” relationship between being black and being more likely to get Tasered, but only when the officer was white or Latino. Black officers were least likely to use the devices, and when they did, there was no racial difference in who they used them on, the researchers found.
    'Reflects disparities'
    The disproportionate use of Tasers on nonwhite subjects does not come as a surprise to Laurie Mlatawou, who in September was appointed co-chairwoman of the Dane County Task Force on Racial Disparities in the Criminal Justice System.
    “It reflects the rest of the disparities that we see in the criminal justice system” in things such as being stopped by police, sentencing and what happens after an offender is released from prison, she said. There is a “hugely disproportionate amount of police contact that is affecting communities of color,” she said.
    The task force has been holding public hearings on the issue and hopes to recommend strategies and programs this summer that might ultimately lessen such disparities.
    Ald. Paul Skidmore, who sits on the city’s Public Safety Review Board and helped craft the department’s Taser-use policy, agreed with Wray that the Taser program has been a success, especially in creating a deterrent and a nonlethal way to subdue out-of-control suspects.
    “I don’t believe that Madison police officers are singling out blacks or other minorities,” he said, but the numbers probably reflect the broader racial disparities in the criminal justice system.
    Wray said the department is continually reviewing its use-of-force policy and has regularly conducted training in “unconscious bias.”
    “We are very aware of it, that concern here,” he said.
    For the morning will come. Brightly will it shine on the brave and true, kindly upon all who suffer for the cause, glorious upon the tombs of heroes. Thus will shine the dawn.

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  2. #2
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  3. #3
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  4. #4
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    pgg
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    Maybe if they did what the nice policeofficer says they wouldn't get their ass tasered... Just a thought
    'Political Correctness is a doctrine fostered by a
    delusional, illogical liberal minority, and rabidly
    promoted by an unscrupulous mainstream media, which
    holds forth the proposition that it is entirely
    possible to pick up a turd by the clean end!'

    “A fear of weapons is a sign of retarded sexual and emotional maturity.” Sigmund Freud

  5. #5
    mtaylor's Avatar
    mtaylor is offline "I dont feel the need to explain myself!"
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    Quote Originally Posted by pgg View Post
    Maybe if they did what the nice policeofficer says they wouldn't get their ass tasered... Just a thought

    Nope wouldn't matter because all officers are just racist pigs.



    Disclaimer: The above statement in no way reflecting my true beliefs and is only written to add comedic value to the thread.
    Romans 13:4
    For he is God's servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by pgg View Post
    Maybe if they did what the nice policeofficer says they wouldn't get their ass tasered... Just a thought
    +1

    And I must be tired - when I first glanced at the thread title I thought it said "Tasting Minorities."




  7. #7
    Captain America's Avatar
    Captain America is offline Reed and Malloy were my FTOs
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    Quote Originally Posted by Buttercup View Post
    +1

    And I must be tired - when I first glanced at the thread title I thought it said "Tasting Minorities."
    You need to get out of the kitchen a little.
    SI VIS PACEM PARA BELLUM

    "It's a great life. You risk your skin catching killers and the juries turn them loose so they can come back and shoot at you again. If your honest , your poor your whole life. And , In the end , you wind up dying all alone on some dirty street. For what? For nothing. For a tin star."
    -Ex-Sheriff Martin Howe to Will Kane in "High Noon"

    Far from being a handicap to command, compassion is the measure of it. For unless one values the lives of his soldiers and is tormented by their ordeals , he is unfit to command.
    -General Omar Bradley, United States Army

    Renniger-Richards-Griswold-Owens

  8. #8
    Buttercup's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Captain America View Post
    You need to get out of the kitchen a little.
    I think you're right.




  9. #9
    Captain America's Avatar
    Captain America is offline Reed and Malloy were my FTOs
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    Quote Originally Posted by Buttercup View Post
    +1

    And I must be tired - when I first glanced at the thread title I thought it said "Tasting Minorities."
    That would make a good title of a chapter in the Cannibal Cookbook.
    SI VIS PACEM PARA BELLUM

    "It's a great life. You risk your skin catching killers and the juries turn them loose so they can come back and shoot at you again. If your honest , your poor your whole life. And , In the end , you wind up dying all alone on some dirty street. For what? For nothing. For a tin star."
    -Ex-Sheriff Martin Howe to Will Kane in "High Noon"

    Far from being a handicap to command, compassion is the measure of it. For unless one values the lives of his soldiers and is tormented by their ordeals , he is unfit to command.
    -General Omar Bradley, United States Army

    Renniger-Richards-Griswold-Owens

  10. #10
    CTR man's Avatar
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    So, did they taste good? I like mine extra crispy.


    Choose The Right. When you're doing whats right, then you have nothing to worry about.

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    In memory of Sgt. Howard K. Stevenson 1965 - 2005. Ceres Police Dept.
    In memory of Robert N. Panos 1955 - 2008 Ceres Police Dept.









 

 

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