BART Interim Chief of Police temporarily suspends use of Tasers
As a result of two recent federal court rulings, BART's Interim Chief of Police Daschel Butler issued a memo to his staff late Thursday afternoon, which temporarily suspends the use of Tasers for the next few weeks. The Chief says this will give the BART Police Department time to familiarize its officers with the newly revised Taser policy, which conforms with the court rulings as well as to retrain officers on the revised policy. The rulings essentially say that the only time an officer can use a Taser is if the suspect poses an immediate threat of bodily harm to either the officer's life or another person's life.
Contrary to some media reports, the Chief made the decision to retrain officers on the revised policy well prior to a incident a few weeks ago involving a police officer who fired a Taser at a suspect. "Because that case is under investigation, the law prevents me from talking about the details of it," Butler said. "However, I can say that Taser missed the suspect and nobody was hurt. That said, the incident did somewhat accelerate the implementation of my decision to retrain officers under the newly revised Taser policy, however, I had already made the decision to suspend the use of Tasers prior to knowing about the incident."
The revised Taser policy will also include language that will now limit officers to position their tasers in just one location on their belt or leg - that's the "weak arm, weak side draw" position. "That means if an officer is left handed, the Taser must be positioned on the right side of their belt or leg and if they are right handed, then the Taser must be positioned on their left side of their belt or leg," Chief Butler said. "This will help officers avoid any confusion as to whether they are reaching for their Taser or their weapon."
Updated: June 22, 2010 / clarified federal court rulings