Island views: What is your opinion of the use of Tasers by law enforcement to subdue individuals suspected of participating in a crime?

John Hoffman

Naples

I have worked on Marco Island most of my life. My whole family is in law enforcement.

It’s really difficult to say one way or another. I’m not for them or against them. However, when you’re in law enforcement, you have to use your best judgement, and unfortunately, sometimes if you honestly and truly believe that you are in danger, whatever you have to do to subdue, you do. That’s what you’re taught. But there are times that, well, members of the police force are large individuals. To have to use a Taser to subdue someone, you know, you have a physically fit, 30-year-old police officer. Does he need to use a Taser on someone he could easily subdue with a baton or with tactical moves? Tasers have a place, but if you are properly trained, you can tell if someone is under the influence of a substance. Most officers, in my experience and observation, you have to be put in a situation where you are genuinely in fear of your life. But we don’t have situations like that around here.

If someone is drunk or stoned, they are certainly not a threat to your life. We don’t have a methamphetamine or PCP problem here. You don’t have to give them a 50,000-volt jolt just because they won’t listen. That’s a power trip. So, there’s one man’s opinion. It’s a cowardly thing. Twenty years ago, we didn’t have Tasers. We used stunguns, where you had to be very close to the person. With a Taser, you can be across the parking lot, and say, “Ha-ha, there you go, zap! Gotcha! And not only that, there’s a second shot for not listening.’ It’s just wrong. They go over and above the call of duty, for the wrong cause. You can’t justify it. This is not to take down a person who might shoot at them. This is to use on a person who does not pose a threat. They lose sight of what law enforcement is really about.

Luke King

Marco Island

I think any use of force is better than a lethal weapon. Although I think that there have been times as we have all seen in the news, where a simple ‘Hey, stop that’ would have worked fine. Like that little old lady. So, maybe there are times that better judgement could be used. But, again, if somebody needs to be subdued, I am definitely more in favor of non-lethal force than pointing a gun at somebody.

Jim Boylan

Marco Island

The use of tasers is beneficial, because it eliminates a lot of need for more deadly force to subdue a subject that may otherwise be susceptible to deadly force. As long as it’s not overdone, which is something the individual officer has to determine on his own, under a totality of the circumstances. I served for 28 years on the Chicago police force, and I teach criminal justice at Edison State College, so I’d say I have a background in law enforcement.

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