Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Have They Learned Anything?

The Bag Lady heard a story on the radio a while back about an escaped bull running wild in town. Apparently, this bull escaped from the stockyards on the north end of the city, and made his way through town. The story on the radio said the bull ended up on the south side of the city, in a stand-off with the police. The bull went on a rampage, charging vehicles and people, and the police eventually had to shoot him.

When the Cowboy came home from work, he told the Bag Lady the ‘Paul Harvey’ version of the story. Apparently, the bull had finally played out and settled down when some genius police officer decided to subdue him further with his Taser gun! Now, the Taser delivers enough voltage to temporarily immobilize a human being, but bulls generally weigh around 2000 lbs. and all that jolt of electricity did was piss the bull off, sending him into a rampage that ultimately ended in his death.

The Bag Lady wonders if that police officer learned anything. Or if anyone else involved in that incident learned anything. She also wonders why they didn’t call someone who knows how to deal with cattle to assist them in this matter. There was no need to Taser the animal, and would have been no need to shoot him if they hadn’t used the Taser in the first place. If the police had left him alone, he would have eventually settled down enough to be enticed into a stock trailer and returned to the stockyard, with a tale to impress the rest of the herd.

There was another story regarding a similar incident in the States (Ohio? Iowa? Idaho?) with a much happier ending. Seems a fellow was transporting some cows when he decided to pull into a McDonald’s drive-thru. Somehow, the trailer door came unlatched and out tumbled 6 or 8 cows. Probably trying to escape what they thought was their ultimate fate! They were eventually rounded up and returned to the trailer.

Years ago, we had a very young calf that got stepped on somehow and ended up with a broken shoulder. The Cowboy discovered the poor little thing one morning, so we hustled the calf into the truck and away to the vet they did go. The vet examined the calf, bound up his leg with some really pretty purple vet wrap, gave the cowboy some instructions for care, then sent them on their way. Now this had all happened before the cowboy had even had coffee, so he decided to hit the drive-thru at McDonald’s for a much-needed cup. Imagine the fuss when the girl working the drive-thru saw the cute little calf in the passenger seat with the purple cast! Every single employee had to come to the window to have a peek (much to the annoyance of the people in the line-up behind him!) Our famous little calf was the talk of McDonald’s AND the talk of the pasture when he showed up sporting his purple cast. He recovered very quickly and was bouncing around with his buddies in record time. Probably got tons of mileage out of the story - it either made him very popular or a laughing stock…he never would tell us. (But I digress.)

There have been several instances in the news lately of deaths related to Tasers, but the Bag Lady is pretty sure this one won’t make national news. It is just one more example of the police relying on their new-fangled equipment rather than good old-fashioned common sense. The Bag Lady is well aware that in this age of drugs and violence, the police are doing a job that not many of us would want, and she is also aware that, with the deaths of several police officers over the past few years in Canada, they are more prone to act first and ask questions later, but in the case of the bull, at least, she thinks they were just a little too eager to use the Taser. They were also pretty hasty to use the Taser in the Vancouver airport. She has seen the video (who in Canada hasn’t?!) and it appears that the police in question did not even attempt to communicate with that poor fellow. Were they afraid he was armed? He had just gotten off an airplane – what the hell kind of weapon could he possibly have been carrying?
So again, the Bag Lady wonders if the police officers involved in this and other instances of Taser use have learned anything. What has happened to the fine art of negotiation? The Bag Lady does not want to appear critical of the police – she feels that Canada has the best police force in the world – but she also feels they need to re-examine the use of Tasers in certain circumstances.
How do the rest of you feel? Should the use of Tasers be more closely regulated?


Leah J. Utas said...

I could go on about this,but I will restrict my comments.
Police attitude has changed over the years. They wish to show force rather than solve a situation.
The Taser has only added to it as it is seen as harmless. Taser-induced deaths are written off as "excited delirium." Well, what caused said delirium?
Train the police in the use of Taser, make it as miserable to use (scads of paperwork) as it is for the drawing of a gun, and give the police back their credibilty and the respect of the public. They do a hard job, but they aren't doing a very good job of it currently.

That aside, loved the calf at McDonald's story.

Hilary said...

Any weapon is frightening in the wrong hands. A hand that can fire a taser at an unarmed man, an 80+ year old man, a 60+ year old woman, an 8 year old child or a lesss-than-deadly animal is the wrong trigger-happy hand.

On the other hand, we're not hearing about the multitude of incidents that were settled reasonably, professionally and without undue force.

As with everything else, there's a balance, but there's just too much 1) taser usage and 2) excessive damage caused for a weapon that was supposed to be a life-saver.

The whole situation leaves me feeling tazed and confused.

As for your wee calf.. that had to be adorable. I hope you have photos. :) Poor thing was the laughing (live)stock of the ranch. ;)

Anonymous said...

I believe that before a police officer is issued a Taser, he or she should be on the receiving end of one. Maybe he/she would think twice about using it so often.
Just my 2 cents...

the Bag Lady said...

dfLeah, the Bag Lady agrees with making the use of the Taser as miserable, paperwork-wise, as a gun. Perhaps they wouldn't resort to it quite so often.
Hilary, you're right, of course - we don't hear about the multitude of problems settled reasonably - that makes for boring copy in the media! The police do a very good job in this country, but it is only the mistakes that are news-worthy!
What could possibly have been so threatening about those elderly and/or young people that they deserved to be tasered?!
The Bag Lady wishes she had been as trigger-happy with the camera when the calf was bandaged - if she did have photos, she can't find them!
Missicat - the Bag Lady seems to remember hearing that the police training in the use of Tasers does involve tasering each other, but probably not all officers are on the receiving end. They should be, though.

Crabby McSlacker said...

I have mixed feelings about this--I think the problem is the officers, not necessarily the tasers. It would only be worse if they were shooting real bullets at animals & people.

Actually disciplining cops and changing the police culture to stop protecting those who abuse their authority would be a start.

But they need better training too!

the Bag Lady said...

You have a point, Crabby. The police do need to be better at discipline within their ranks. The officers involved in the Tasering incident at the Vancouver airport have already been re-assigned - one would think to the more northern regions (Canada's equivalent of Siberia!) A posting to Tuktoyuktuk is generally considered punishment - the cold, hard kind ;)

Reb said...

The police, like any other group, get a bit more jumpy when two of their members have been shot in a matter of weeks. That being said, yes, there needs to be more paper work to make them think twice about using Tazers.
The criminal element however needs to realize that the Tazer is just as potentially fatal as a sidearm. Don't dick around and you won't be Tazered. I am sure the officers involved were just as surprised at the deaths as the general public. For years we have seen movies with little old ladies carrying Tazers, using them as comic relief with no harm resulting from their use.
Personally I think more testing and training is needed. Stats can be skewed to make anything seem harmless and we don't know what the manufacturer has done to the stats before giving them out.

In the incident of the bull, the cop was obviously a city kid and had never heard of a cattle prod and had no idea that that was in effect what he was using.

Good post Sis - I'll stop now though.

the Bag Lady said...

Hi, Reb: knowing of your prior connection to the police, the Bag Lady was curious about your take on things. She is aware that the police are justifiably a little jumpier these days, and agrees that the police were probably just as surprised at the deaths. That being said, they do need to make not only the general public aware that tasers can be lethal, but also the members of the police force.
Me-thinks tasers are probably not going to be the cattle-prod of choice in the ranching industry!