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article imageMixed Reactions To Taser Policy For Uniontown Schools

By Susan Duclos     Aug 10, 2008 in World
In Uniontown Area, Pennsylvania, there is a discussion going on about a taser plan being set up which would allow the use of tasers to be used in the Uniontown schools. The plans are receiving mixed reviews.
The Uniontown school officials have announced their intent to draft a taser policy for their police officers at the schools. This policy will potentially be discussed at their August 18, 2008 meeting and could be implemented as soon as next month.
Reactions to these reports are mixed, with the school's director of security asserting that giving this option to the officers of the district would be giving them " the safest possible conditions for children, staff and visitors than as a weapon "directed at the students."
The ACLU, via their attorney, says he cannot envision a need to use tasers in a school setting. They also believe that using tasers would be asking for trouble.
At a public meeting on Wednesday night, concerned parents and residents questioned the need for tasers as consultants called tasers an "useful extra tool" to be used instead of a firearm in gaining control of certain situations.
Ken Trump, a former school security director who heads National School Safety and Security Services, said a device like a Taser -- which delivers a powerful electric shock to incapacitate a person -- potentially can be helpful if an adult non-student intruder threatens harm to himself or others.
"I think parents need to realize they're not zapping kids for not having a hall pass," Trump said.
The high profile cases of deaths occurring after the use of a taser, and abuses of the use of the weapon that incapacitates a suspect, by authorities, that make spectacular headlines is also discussed in the article.
Ken Trump, a former school security director who heads National School Safety and Security Services, addresses those concerns by saying "The key is conservative use. I think we can say, if we can break up a fight in the hallway in a traditional way, then what's the point (of a Taser)?"
The article goes on to discuss the high profile cases, specifying last months headlines where a 17-year-old Winnipeg boy with a knife became the youngest Canadian to die after being zapped.
Another example was the recent in the Charlotte area which prosecutors said last month that the officers involved with a 17 year-old boys death would not be prosecuted after they zapped the suspect when he advanced on officers.
However, medical studies have shown that exposure to a conducted-energy device, or CED, like a Taser, is safe in the "vast majority of cases," according to a June report by the National Institute of Justice.
One of the three district school police officers that would have the ability to use tasers, should the need arise, is Don Homer, who is a 30-year law enforcement veteran and has been certified to use a Taser for eight years and is currently Uniontown's director of security and he states, "Probably the majority of my concern is protecting staff and students from something that could happen from outside the school. You want to be prepared. If you're not, it's too late."
The Southmoreland school director, Ken Alt, who worked in the state prison system, believes that his district would not necessarily follow Uniontown's lead in implemented a taser policy, but he does state that he thinks it could be useful. He also states one major point that many have said in recent discussions about tasers with the statement, "I think if the guy's trained and qualified it's definitely a plus. You never know anymore. Common sense is the biggest thing."
The common sense issue is one that continues to be debated, especially after a recent event where a man died after being tasered 9 times.
Some might argue that common sense is the biggest issue in regards to the use of tasers, yet what kind of test can you give law enforcement officials that will determine if they have an appropriate amount of common sense?
[Update] Here are Uniontwon's crime statistics.
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