Tourist advice for travellers to Australia.

Do, do, do try not to get arrested in East Perth unless you like being surrounded by cops and repeatedly tasered. In the fucking custody suite at the station.

Nine police who surrounded an unarmed man at the East Perth watch house used a Taser on him 13 times even though he wasn’t threatening them, the WA corruption watchdog has found.

The Corruption and Crime Commission investigation was part of a wider examination of WA Police’s use of Tasers since their introduction in 2007, the majority of which were found to be reasonable.

Perhaps. I’m certainly prepared to believe that and I don’t have a problem with officers using tasers or even their sidearms to protect themselves or members of the public. And I’m even prepared to believe that the guy was somewhat short of a sainthood.

Police said they tried to arrest the man on a Bayswater street after complaints of a trespasser sniffing petrol from cars, but he fled. They later arrested him after he ran into a stationary car on Guildford Road. He allegedly collapsed and became violent, kicking two officers when he woke.

He was taken to the watch house, where police attempted to strip search him. Police said he had previously been convicted of a number of offences including assaulting police officers, resisting arrest and common assault.

On the other hand all he was doing was just sitting there saying he didn’t want to be strip searched and wouldn’t let go of the bench. Is the taser supposed to be a tool for protecting police officers in the field or is it okay to use it as a cattle prod to shock, literally, into submission anyone who’s doing nothing worse than being a passive aggressive pain in the arse?

“The man had been compliant, removing his belt and earring when requested by police officers. However, the man refused to comply with a strip search and held onto the armrest of the bench. One police officer kicked out at the man in an attempt to ‘startle’ him into letting go of the bench,” the report said.

Because to me that’s what they look like they’re doing (you may not find this easy watching).

Do you wanna go again? Do you wanna go again?

I don’t even want to watch it again, but in case you didn’t that was said after he’d been shocked a few times, and it was by no means the last one he got. For Christ’s sake, couldn’t they have got two cops on each limb and gone from there? I mean what did police do before they could just repeatedly send electricity through people? Well, I suppose there was bouncing people off the cell floor, but surely they didn’t do that to everyone. Still, I’m sure at least that was the worst and the interview was comforta…

No, I don’t want to go again.

… Oh.

Joking aside I do seriously wonder how well I’d do in a police interview if I’d taken 13 shocks from tasers when they brought me in. After that I might be inclined to waive a solicitor, confess to pushing the iceberg in front of the Titanic and worry about court later… anything as long as it got me the fuck away from that bloody cop shop. I’m sure that wasn’t the cops’ intention but it’s a possibility and it worries me, because if it can be done eventually some dodgy copper will do it. I’d hope that WA Police haven’t got a single member who’d stoop that low but between tasering each other on purpose and maybe accidentally setting someone on fire they haven’t exactly covered themselves in glory when it comes to taser use.

And the other thing is that this kind of thing is changing my opinion of tasers. I’m never slow to criticise the police but in principle I’m all for giving them the tools they need to enforce the law (getting rid of a lot of unnecessary and illiberal laws would be far more effective a way of tackling incidences of over the top policing). Up until recently I’ve felt that that includes tasers simply because they’re a less lethal, usually non-lethal, alternative to using a gun. But the reason why I’m now no longer sure is that these controversial taser incidents seem to be happening more and more around the world and I’m wondering if a cop with a less lethal option than a gun will be more likely to use it. I read somewhere that we humans have a kind of built in acceptable level of risk and so the more safety features are on a car the less careful the driver will tend to be as a result of ‘risk compensation’. Could the same thing apply to a cop choosing between a baton, a taser and a gun? Any reasonable person, and I believe most cops probably are reasonable people and quite possibly the cops in that video are too, would be extremely reluctant to pull the trigger of a gun aimed at someone, but would we be equally reluctant to pull the trigger of something which while undeniably unpleasant and painful only very rarely causes a fatality? I hope that I would be as hesitant to taser as I would to shoot but in all honesty I’m far from sure. And I’m not sorry that I’ll probably never find out.

Posted on October 5, 2010, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on Tourist advice for travellers to Australia..

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