Target: Daniel J. Oates, Chief of the Miami Beach Police Department
Goal: Preserve the policy requiring police officers to have a Taser used on them before they are able to carry one
The chief of the Miami Beach Police Department, Daniel J. Oates, has reversed a long-standing policy that required officers to experience being Tasered before being able to carry the “non-lethal” weapon on duty. Miami Beach police officers will no longer be required to know what they are going to subject others to when they use their Taser. Demand that Chief Oates reinstate the old policy.
In an act that could only be considered hilariously out of touch if its implications weren’t so terrifying, Oates issued the policy change on the same day that his department received funding to replace its old Tasers with new ones. Citing “compassion for his employees,” Oates said “I have been shocked by the Taser, and it is extremely unpleasant. I don’t believe an officer needs to go through that experience in order to be well trained in how to use the weapon.” He went on to say that, since similar experience with other non-lethal weapons is not required, “I don’t believe it’s a valid, legal reason” to continue the old Taser policy. It’s too bad that Oates is more concerned with the safety and comfort of his police officers than with that of the people his officers will be using their Tasers against.
Given the terrifying reality of militarized police forces nationwide, Oates’ action is going in decidedly the wrong direction. If anything, police officers should be on the receiving end of all their “less-than-lethal” weapons before being allowed to use them. Sign the petition below to demand that Chief Oates reinstate the old Taser policy.
Dear Miami Beach Police Chief Oates,
I am writing you today regarding your memo that did away with the Taser policy for officers in your department. The reversal betrayed a profound obliviousness to the climate surrounding police departments and police officers these days and should be abandoned.
While your primary concern seems to be the comfort of your officers, I would argue that that should be so low a priority that it be practically nonexistent. Indeed, myself and many others contend that, if anything, you should be making your officers more uncomfortable before they can actually go out into their communities. By that I mean that officers should know exactly what experiences they are going to put a person through before they put them through it. Officers should know what it feels like to be Tasered. Officers should know what it feels like to have tear gas used against them. If officers know what these extremely aversive, painful experiences are, they will hopefully be more discriminating in their use out in the field.
Heroic protests surrounding the murders of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, and countless others have communicated loud and clear that there is a clear disconnect between people and the police. Your reversal of the Taser policy speaks directly to that. I demand that you preserve the old Taser policy and make sure all officers know what it feels like before they have the right to Taser a civilian.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Coolcaesar via Wikimedia Commons