Police and Tasers: Are they going too far?

It's been plastered in newspapers, talked about ceaselessly on radio and television news programs, and debated in the minds of many - and mine is no exception. Should the student questioning John Kerry have been subdued with a Taser? Should the police carry Tasers in the first place?

On Sept. 18, John Kerry addressed an audience of students at Florida State. One student, Andrew Meyer, stood up and asked Mr. Kerry several increasingly bizarre questions, in response to which he was asked to leave the room. After his refusal, police officers attempted to remove him, and when he resisted, they shocked him with a Taser.

Many have been wondering if Tasers should be distributed to police officers; they are incredibly painful weapons. Currently, all state troopers in New York carry Tasers, as in many other states, with the rationale that they are an effective weapon of non-lethal force. I personally tend to agree with this: Given the choice between being tased and being shot, I would choose a shock from a Taser any day.

The controversy of the situation revolves around this question: should Meyer have been subdued with a Taser? I have seen the video on YouTube, and I don't believe that there was any reason to shock Meyer. By my count, there were five to seven police officers in the camera shot and who knows how many more outside of range of that electrical eye. The implication, therefore, is that this Meyer is a kind of superman, or that the seven police officers are collectively as strong as a 12-year-old. In fact, from the camera's perspective, it appeared that he was being held down while being shocked. Granted, he was warned that he would be shocked, but that's like being warned that you'll be going swimming right after you put on the concrete underwear. This, obviously, is a travesty.

Don't get me wrong, I fully support the decision for police officers to carry Tasers and other painful but non-lethal means of executing the authority given to them by their position. Sometimes they need to subdue a suspect who would otherwise have the upper hand. As noted above, the choice between tasing and shooting is an easy one.

The problem, I think, arose in this case from a lack of foresight. The number of officers alone should have been sufficient to appropriately subdue Meyer, if indeed that was what was needed. Poor judgment, officers.