Police policies for the use of a Taser

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Dominus Atheos
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Police policies for the use of a Taser

Post by Dominus Atheos » 2010-10-11 06:48pm

There is often debate over whether the use of a Taser is justifiable by police officers in certain situations. I found the Denver police dept's Use of Force policy that clearly lays out when and how to use a taser.

First some definitions:
Types of Resistance

1. Psychological Intimidation - Non-verbal cues in attitude, appearance, demeanor or
posture that indicates an unwillingness to cooperate or a threat.

2. Verbal Non-Compliance - Verbal responses indicating an unwillingness to comply with
officer's directions or threat to injure a person.

3. Passive Resistance - Physical actions that do not prevent the officer's attempt to control,
for example, a person who remains in a limp or prone position.

4. Defensive Resistance - Physical actions that attempt to prevent officer's control including
flight or attempt to flee, but do not involve attempts to harm the officer.

5. Active Aggression - A threat or overt act of an assault, coupled with the present ability to
carry out the threat or assault, which reasonably indicates that an assault or injury to any
person is imminent.

6. Aggravated Active Aggression - Deadly force encounter.

7. Psychological Intimidation, Verbal Non-Compliance and Passive Resistance usually do
not involve conduct sufficient to support criminal charges related to resistance.
Now the actual policy:
Less lethal ERD/TASER Deployment

a. Use of an Electronic Restraint Device (ERD/TASER) shall be considered a use
of force and must meet the requirements of all department policies and
procedures and the Colorado Revised Statute.

b. Acceptable uses of the ERD/TASER include:

1. To incapacitate a combative or physically resistive person; whose
conduct rises at least to the level of Active Aggression. The purpose is
to neutralize the person to the point they can be safely controlled and
taken into custody. This use of force option becomes necessary when
other force options would be inappropriate or ineffective under the
circumstances. (Active Aggression: A threat or overt act of an assault,
coupled with the present ability to carry out the threat or assault, which
reasonably indicates that an assault or injury to any person is imminent.),

2. In situations when its use is likely to prevent an officer or a third person
from serious bodily injury, OR

3. To incapacitate a suicidal person who can’t be safely controlled with
other force options.

c. Unless deadly force is warranted, officers shall not intentionally deploy the
ERD/TASER as follows:

1. To the head, eyes, throat, neck, chest, breast(s) of a female, genitalia, or spinal column.

a. The point of aim (meaning the placement of the red laser dot) shall be the muscles of the
upper abdominal area just below the sternum.

b. Probe strikes in any restricted area shall be specifically noted in the Use of Force Report,
with an articulation of the specific suspect action(s) that may have caused the probe to
strike the restricted area.

2. To a pregnant female, unless deadly force is warranted and if the officer has knowledge of the

3. On an open wound, if the officer has knowledge of the open wound.

d. Officers will not use the ERD/Taser in the following situations:

1. When the suspect has come in contact with or is in an environment containing flammable gases
or liquids.

2. Drug houses where ether or other flammable chemicals are suspected.

3. To prevent a suspect from swallowing evidence.

4. To terminate a foot chase unless the suspect’s actions rise to the level of Active Aggression.

5. When the subject is in a position where a fall may cause serious bodily injury or death.

6. Where the suspect is in water of sufficient depth that the suspect may drown once

7. Where its use will cause the suspect to lose control of a motor vehicle unless they can
articulate compelling reasons.

8. When the subject is holding a firearm, unless they can articulate compelling reasons.

9. When the subject is at the extremes of age or physically disabled, unless they can articulate
compelling reasons.

10. In a situation where deadly force is clearly justifiable, unless sufficient cover is present and is
capable of providing deadly force (Lethal Cover) to protect the officers and or civilians as

11. As a tool of coercion or punishment. Officers will not activate the Taser against a suspect more
than the minimum number of times necessary to safely take the suspect into custody, and the
suspect should be secured as soon as practical, while experiencing electro-muscular
disruption, in order to minimize the number of cycles.

12. On a handcuffed prisoner, unless the officer can articulate an immediate need to stop a threat
or action that will cause serious injury or death to the officer or another person.

13. No officer shall playfully or maliciously display, or intentionally misuse the ERD/Taser. See OMS
105.02(4)d.6.b. for acceptable uses of the ERD/Taser.

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