Commentary and information about public safety and security, intelligence and counterintelligence, open government and secrecy, and other issues in northern Idaho and eastern Washington.

Location: Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, United States

Raised in Palouse, WA. Graduated from Washington State University. US Army (Counterintelligence). US Secret Service (Technical Security Division) in Fantasyland-on-the-Potomac and Los Angeles. Now living in north Idaho.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Less Lethal

For years law enforcement has been looking for less lethal weapons as an alternative to deadly force. The prospect of less lethal weapons raises not only technical issues but also policy, training, and liability concerns.

In my February 16, 2005, blog post Theft, Gunfire, and Death in Hayden, Idaho: Part II, I wondered why Coeur d'Alene police officer Michael Kralicek entered an unsecured house in pursuit of the house's resident and chose to draw his department-issued TASER® rather than his handgun. The resident, Michael Madonna, had been ineffectively restrained by a Kootenai County deputy sheriff. Madonna was able to run into his house, pick up a handgun, and fire two rounds at Kralicek and the pursuing deputy. One of the rounds struck Kralicek with a disabling wound. I wondered if proliferation of less-lethal weapons (Kralicek was carrying three: an extendible baton, OC spray, and a TASER®), each with its own training requirements and policy boundaries, is forcing law enforcement officers to spend too much time making decisions, thereby placing their own lives at greater risk.

My concern expressed after the avoidable shootings of Michael Kralicek and Michael Madonna was somewhat validated by Spokane's Acting Police Chief Jim Nicks' comments following the death of Otto Zehm. During his arrest, Zehm was TASER'd and then restrained while in Spokane Police custody. He died while restrained. In her March 24, 2006, article headlined Officers in fight defended, The Spokesman-Review staff writer Jody Lawrence-Turner reports, "Nicks said his police department's policy regarding a Taser's use is the same as with all non-lethal weapons that officers carry. The protocol is if the tool doesn't work after two or three tries, move on to the next tool."

In November 2006, the US Department of Justice's Bureau of Justice Research and its Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program worked with the private Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) to publish Conducted Energy Devices: Development of Standards for Consistency and Guidance -- The Creation of National CED Policy and Training Guidelines. The report's principal authors were James M. Cronin and Joshua A. Ederheimer. This report focused on policies relating to conducted energy devices (CED), more commonly referred to by one specfic product's acronym "TASER®", a registered trademark of TASER International.

Additionally, the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), the Bureau of Justice Assistance, COPS, the National Institute of Justice, and other organizations have joined together to create a website to provide an online clearinghouse for information about less lethal weapons. The clearinghouse's URL is Less-Lethal.org. The site "...was created by the Less Lethal Technology Working Group (LLTWG) to assist local, state and federal law enforcement agencies in developing, implementing and enhancing policies governing the use of less lethal technologies."


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