Comments (5) 10:30 PM posted by admin |
As reported earlier by the Ann Arbor News, on January 18th, Ypsilanti City Council voted to authorize the purchase of 43 X-26 Tasers. The Ypsilanti Police Department received $24,971 from the Justice Assistance Grant Program to help offset the purchase price.
The vote was 6 to 1.
If you haven’t figured it out yet, I was the lone, dissenting vote.
Tasers are controversial. There is still a lot of debate in the medical community as to how safe they are. According to Amnesty International, they have documented over 290 deaths they attribute to Taser use. Taser International attributes those deaths to a state of “excited delerium” caused by subjects being high on some form of drug.
It should be noted there is no accepted medical definition for “excited delerium“.
I voted no for one simple reason: I did not have the information I needed to make what I thought was an educated decision.
At the December 4th City Council meeting, I was able to get the same item tabled. At the time, I asked for statistics on Taser use from surrounding communities that already had them. I also asked for workers compensation figures because part of the presentation given to Council was that Tasers would make officers safer and reduce injuries. Finally, I wanted to see the YPD’s policy on Taser use.
In the 45 days that led up to the January 18th Council meeting, I received information regarding the number of incidents over the past 5 years that would have warranted the use of a Taser.
I received the remaining information, including a draft of the Taser policy just after 9PM (one and a half hours after the meeting began). This was the first time that anyone on Council had seen the policy yet we were being asked to approve the purchase of Tasers. Without the necessary votes to table the resolution and with insufficient time to read the information and compare it to other Taser policies across the country, I voted no.
In the end, the core issue was not about Tasers or support of the police. What the rest of Council failed to understand is that this was about the flow of information. A Council Member made a very specific request for information from City officials and he did not receive it.
That should totally unnerve the residents of Ypsilanti.