It’s not that there’s no place for the Taser in the arsenal of weapons available to police. It’s that the Taser has made cops lazy and, for those lacking the brains required of a server at Dairy Queen, stupid. Don’t believe me? See Exhibit A :
MARTINSVILLE, Ind. — Two Martinsville police officers have been suspended after they were accused of using a Taser to subdue a 10-year-old.
A news release from the mayor’s office and the Martinsville Police Department said the officers responded Tuesday evening to Tender Teddies Day Care on reports of a 10-year-old who was out of control.
The release said that the officers, trying to prevent the child from hurting other children, staff members and himself, slapped the boy and then used a Taser to subdue him.
It’s often facile for those who blame the “criminal” to retort that any force used against them was deserved. “They brought it on themselves,” they say. Whether that’s so depends on the situation, and may in fact be true at time. But what do you say to a 10 year old who is slapped, then tased?
A bad seed? Child predator? We’ve developed language to turn children into animals, to excuse adults from using force against them as if they were vicious criminals.
Officials said officers had been called to the day care before about the same child.
“One of the police officers came out here and said they have trouble with him all the time because he is a problem child,” said neighbor Stephanie Hamilton. “He was kicking and screaming … and he wouldn’t quit.”
Kenneth Frazier said he believes the boy needs help.
“I don’t think that should have happened. I’m sure they could have detained him some other way,” he said. “They take big grown ups down without tasing them … why a 10-year-old?”
What gave rise to this 10 year old’s behavior is unknown. It would certainly appear he needs help, and maybe a lot of it. Dealing with children who are out of control requires a great deal of thought, patience and restraint. This is a child.
The point is often best made by asking a question, what would they have done if they didn’t have a Taser? This time, however, it’s not the best question as the cops smacked the child before tasing him. It suggests that they might have just beat the living daylights out of him instead. Maybe batons?
So what were the cops thinking? In all likelihood, they were thinking that even a 10 year old “kicking and screaming” can inflict a painful blow to the shins. If there is anything that motivates a cop to act, it’s avoidance of a blow, even when that blow comes from a 10 year old. Better to beat him into submission than suffer a blow. A well-landed blow can be really painful.
Of course, risking a potential bruised shin to grasp a child, physically subdue him, stop him from lashing out and doing so in a way that will not involve the use of force on a 10 year old, was an option. Some cops, maybe those who are father or mother to a 10 year old, would consider taking such a risk. Most cops won’t. No 10 year old is worth the risk of a painful shin.
And why should a cop take a risk when he’s got a Taser? Problem solved.
The two officers involved have been suspended pending an investigation. Maybe they’re investigating whether the 10 year old was really a very short adult serial shin kicker, or they are checking for prior drug convictions in his background to smear the victim and justify police action. I dunno.