Tuesday, July 29, 2008

How Bad Does it Have to Get?

How bad does it have to get? What’s it going to take? How many children, elderly people, people in wheelchairs, or anyone who doesn’t “comply” fast enough with a cop’s order are we going to allow to be Tasered?

Today, we read about a 16-year-old boy with a broken back who was Tasered by some Missouri cops for “non-compliance.” The boy had fallen 50 feet from an overpass, and because he couldn’t get up, or do whatever the hell it was the cops wanted him to do, he was shocked 19 times with 50,000 volts.

But I’m being unfair. I admit it. That’s not the whole story. I should tell it all, and I will. Here's the cops' side of the story: While the boy was lying there with a broken back, barely unconscious, he mumbled something like “kill the cops.”

Which of course puts the whole incident in a different light. What cop wouldn’t piss his pants in fear hearing some like that, even if it did come from a boy with a broken back.

Where do these cops come from? Are police departments deliberately recruiting cretins? It’s beginning to look that way.

And guess what, it’s not just cops anymore. Now we have to worry about security guards as well.

Two days ago, it came to light that security guards at an Ohio hospital Tasered and beat a 66-year-old minister for telling a joke.

Again I ask, How bad does it have to get? Isn’t it bad enough right now? When are we going to start demanding an end to Taser madness? When are we going to see some solutions? Is that what we’re waiting for? Solutions? They’re not hard to find.

One solution, for instance, would be to change police training procedures. Right now, cops are trained to use Tasers for compliance. This is not why Tasers were originally introduced into police arsenals. Tasers were meant to be used only in situations where lives were in danger, as an alternative to deadly force. It was never intended that they be used to enforce orders to lie down, stand up, bend over, or do anything other than drop a weapon. To use them for compliance in general is to invite sadistic cops to use them at their whim.

Second, we should demand that police departments (and security firms, too, apparently) stop hiring cretins. Standards need to higher, not lower. And if higher standards mean a police shortage, fine. It would be safer to have no cops at all, rather than a squadron of bad cops.

Naturally, all the high standards in the world cannot prevent the occasional cretin from slipping into police ranks. And when that happens, when cops do bad things such as Taser a boy with a broken back, it is not enough to fire them. Like any other criminal, they should go to jail.

Yes, I know, jail space is at a premium these days, despite our nation having more jail space than any nation on earth.. But there’s a solution for that too …

Every day in this country, people are thrown in jail for a trivial offense. In some cases, they have not even broken a law. A few months ago, for instance, a man was jailed because his 18-year-old, non-minor daughter did not get a GED test—clearly, a ridiculous waste of jail space. And that is not an isolated case. There are many more just like it, perhaps thousands a day.

So the solution is simple. Release all the pot users, jaywalkers, litterbugs, people with unpaid library fines, and the like, and overnight our nation’s jails and prisons will be three-quarters empty, ample room to house all the bad cops.

Well, maybe not quite enough. But that’s no problem. We can always build more prisons for more bad cops ...

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