After suspending police use of Taser electric shock guns for two weeks after officers repeatedly shocked a man who was not resisting arrest, Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino on Tuesday ordered the stun guns gradually back into use - under tighter restrictions and only by officers who undergo training in the new rules of engagement.
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Police rules permit the use of Tasers if there is a genuine threat to an officer or the suspect. However, over the past few years there have been numerous claims of police abuse of the stun gun. Documents submitted to a court in 2011 showed that one such weapon alone was used some 300 times in just two months.
Danino accepted the findings of an investigative committee he appointed after the excessively violent arrest of Yitzhar resident Boaz Albert. The team concluded that when used properly, the Taser is an effective method for enforcement. “The main factor for the continued exceptional events [in Taser use] is the human factor, the combination of a low level of familiarity with the procedure on one hand and a lack of discipline in viewing the limitation on the force [used] on the other hand. This has created a base for these exceptional incidents,” wrote the committee. The Taser has earned a reputation as an effective weapon for deterrence, which provides the police who carry it with a feeling of security during their duties, wrote the investigative team.
The Taser fires two arrow-like shots attached to wires. The shots penetrate the skin and an electric shock passes through the wires to the target. At any point when the suspect is immobilized and on the ground, squeezing the trigger can send more electric shocks.
In the United States, where the weapon is made, the Taser gun is used extensively but remains controversial. The manufacturer, Taser, says that the weapon is not lethal, but in the United States there have been hundreds of cases involving civilians who died after receiving electroshock from the weapons.
The Israel Police started using the stun guns in 2011, and there are some 500 of them in use, with some 1,800 police officers having qualified to use them prior to Danino’s order that they would now require updated training.
The Taser is defined by the police as "a non-lethal weapon." The team wrote that the presence of the shocker has many times prevented the use of physical force or the use of lethal weapons, "and has reduced the number of serious injuries to police and suspects."