The Cincinnati Police Department’s use of force policy is being updated, specifically the sections dealing with Taser use.
City Manager Milton Dohoney, Jr. outlined the changes Monday in a memo to Mayor Mark Mallory and Council Members.
The city’s Law Department worked with the Police Department on the changes.
The memo said the review was triggered in part because of concerns about the Taser’s capacity to cause death in certain rare situations. In further states some reports suggest Taser barbs deployed in the chest region, along with a number of other factors, could lead to sudden cardiac arrest and/or death.
The policy changes include:
1) Officers are prohibited from frontal shots with the Taser except in situations of self defense or the defense of another. The policy states the preferred target area is the back of the individual actively resisting arrest.
2) The policy reinforces the factor officers must use when determining the reasonableness of the force used. Those include the severity of the crime; whether the suspect poses an immediate threat to the safety of the officers or others; and whether the suspect is actively resisting arrest or attempting to evade arrest by flight.
3) The memo also notes subjects have been injured as the result of secondary injury caused by the use of the Taser. For instance, a suspect may fall and be injured. Officers are now being asked to consider environmental conditions prior to deploying the Taser.
The Police Department believes the new policy along with additional training will minimize risks associated with the use of the Taser while keeping officers safe.
The department still believes the Taser is a beneficial tool, which reduces the need to resort to lethal force option. It also said the Taser has reduced injuries to officers and suspects.
Police Chief James Craig says the department is proactively and consistently looking at its force options.
"We recognize that any time you use force it's a high risk activity and certainly we want to apply the least amount of force in any given situation."