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Brattleboro Tasing Incident Report - Police Used Excessive Force    
Friday, February 08 2008 @ 09:35 PM GMT+4
Contributed by: cgrotke

Town NewsAttorney Gordon Black's opinion on the tasing incident has been released, and the Town of Brattleboro has issued the following press release saying, in part, that he finds "while the officers were acting within the then existing policy, the use of force by the officers was excessive."

He takes issue with the new "Use of Force Policy", saying that it is a "very broad grant of authority" and says that Tasers should not be used to punish, or against anyone passively resisting.

Full report is available on the Town site (link below)

"Memorandum from the Selectboard regarding the Report:

On July 24, 2007, two protesters were arrested by the Brattleboro Police Department for unlawful trespass after trespassing on a privately-owned vacant lot on Putney Road. In arresting the protesters, officers used a Taser.

Given the circumstances of the arrest, the Brattleboro Selectboard retained Attorney Gordon Black from Bennington County to conduct an investigation as to whether the use of force by the officers was justified within the department's then existing use of force policy. Attorney Black was recommended to the Selectboard by the Town Attorney.

The Selectboard received the final report on Tuesday, February 5, 2007. Attorney Black's opinion is that while the officers were acting within the then existing policy, the use of force by the officers was excessive.

In addition, Attorney Black recommends a more clearly defined use of force policy that incorporates language that officers be allowed to use a Taser only on suspects exhibiting "active aggression" and who are deemed likely to harm themselves or others, using the "reasonable officer" standard. He recommends "active aggression" be defined as an assault or imminent assault.

The Town Manager is in the process of making the recommended changes to the Brattleboro Police Department's use of force policy. Any and all disciplinary action against the officers is a personnel issue and will be handled internally.

The report is available on the Town website at: www.brattleboro.org. A copy of the report is available by request to the Town Manager's office at 251-8100."

Brattleboro Tasing Report

 

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  • Brattleboro Tasing Incident Report - Police Used Excessive Force | 15 comments | Create New Account
    The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they may say.
    Brattleboro Tasing Incident Report - Police Used Excessive Force
    Authored by: SK-B on Sunday, February 10 2008 @ 12:19 PM GMT+4
    I found the use of a taser to force compliance in non-threatening situation to be extremely disturbing.

    Personally I have a heart condition, so I am particularly aware of the potentially fatal consequences of tazer use. Allowing a tazer to use just to get someone to move, even if that person is behaving non-violently, gives too much discretion to a person who, in the heat of the moment, may not exercise good judgment.

    Immediately after the Putney Road incident, I wrote to then Police Chief John Martin and expressed my shock. Now that it has come out that Martin had advised moderation, and it was not his orders being followed, it confirms the need for a policy which does not give inappropriate leaway the person who has been entrusted with the taser. A taser should only be used as a substitute for a gun: Not as a substitute for common sense.
    Brattleboro Tasing Incident Report - Police Used Excessive Force
    Authored by: Maus Anon E on Sunday, February 10 2008 @ 01:52 PM GMT+4
    ***I found the use of a taser to force compliance in non-threatening situation to be extremely disturbing.***
    Ditto.
    I was floored when the new chief came back with a new taser policy supporting the use of a taser for compliance - twice! The way they insisted on having free reign to zap anyone who didn't immediately follow their orders, you'd think Brattleboro was in the midst of a gang invasion instead of the usual harmless hippies.
    I couldn't believe town atty. Bob Fisher said, basically, it wasn't the selectboard's business to approve "internal police policy," despite the failure of the town manager and chief to present a sane taser use policy.
    It's fortunate that the town self-awareness to realize they needed an outside opinion, and even more fortunate they found a sane voice for that opinion. If the town follows Black's recommendations for the taser policy, it looks like the police will have a clear policy that's based on the need to use force, and doesn't force for the sake of convenience or expediency.

    -Maus

    ---
    Psyche!
    Brattleboro Tasing Incident Report - Police Used Excessive Force
    Authored by: cbridge on Sunday, February 10 2008 @ 11:37 PM GMT+4
    I think the selectfolk had better move on it promptly, before the Deformer
    et al. whip up the reactionary legions & get them replaced.
    Brattleboro Tasing Incident Report - Police Used Excessive Force
    Authored by: Maus Anon E on Monday, February 11 2008 @ 12:03 AM GMT+4
    As I understand it, the replacements are already taken care of.

    -Maus

    ---
    Psyche!
    Brattleboro Tasing Incident Report - Police Used Excessive Force
    Authored by: Azrael on Monday, February 11 2008 @ 05:06 PM GMT+4
    While I can understand why people were upset by this incident, I wasn't there so I wont condemn the police for what they did. However I think Mr. Blacks recommendation to prohibit the Tasers use in any situation except for where an assault is happening or is immanent is ludicrous and dangerous to the public and the police. Who's really to say what using a taser as a means of compliance really is, what if an officer is chasing a guy who just robed someone, the guy refuses to stop trying to flee isn't tasing him then a form of forced compliance? but surly you don't want him to be free just cause the cop couldn't taser him? I know this is an extreme example but still prohibiting its use a compliance tool is just stupid. Also people seem to be forgetting an important point in this case. If the two people in question were not breaking the law and refusing an officers orders this never would have happened. I find it funny that some.......well lets keep it polite "people" can break the law refuse a reasonable order by the police and then get everyone on there side when the law comes down on them and even sue. If you tie the hands of the police to remove people who are causing problems then your just going to force the owners of the land to do it themselves and trust me you come on my property and refuse to leave I can make it real uncomfortable for you to be here and wish you had been tased.
    What should the police have done ?
    Authored by: tiny on Monday, February 11 2008 @ 06:24 PM GMT+4
    So what should have the police done? Here are 2 people hooked up to a barrel with a pipe that is not your run of the mill pipe but rather a professional protesting piece of equipment known as "the sleeping dragon pipe."
    Okay, so tasing the dudes was wrong. But what should the police do? I have heard that if the cops had waited them out, they would have been gone in 48 hours, but that would have resulted in a media circus. And of course, that's what Slug and company want, a big scene, because he and his crowd have whistle this tune before and know what they want, maximum media exposure.

    So again I ask, what should the police do? Tickle them? Put itching powder on their body? Play really loud and bad music? Force them to watch Bush speeches? Pour honey on them so ants will bite them? How should the police have gotten them to move?
    What should the police have done ?
    Authored by: cgrotke on Monday, February 11 2008 @ 06:28 PM GMT+4
    "Tickle them? "

    That might have worked just as well. : )

    What should the police have done ?
    Authored by: tiny on Monday, February 11 2008 @ 07:49 PM GMT+4
    Yeah, it probably would have.
    Sorry if I was being glib.
    Plenty of people have said the tasing was unnecessary. But nobody has said what should have been done. I have given 4 alternatives. What do others think should have been done?
    What should the police have done ?
    Authored by: MMulligan on Monday, February 11 2008 @ 08:56 PM GMT+4
    Why...what is the immediacy?

    "but that would have resulted in a media circus. And of course, that's what Slug and company want, a big scene, because he and his crowd have whistle this tune before and know what they want, maximum media exposure."

    A media circus is not against the law...it is not disruptive to people, property and traffic. It’s constitutionally protected speech...annoying as heck.

    If you want to get mad with a media circus...you ought to be mad at the police where they elevated the slug’s message into a regional event.


    There is a very interesting whistleblowing tactic being demonstrated here. I am sure it wasn’t conscious. But Watergate started it, and I refined it. You got a problem that is to big for the little people to solve, or for that matter....to much intimidation.

    There is a little bit of self sabotage going on here. You poke your competitors directly in the eye...you leak embarrassing documents...you torment your intimidators with leaks of secret internal goings on. Then you disclose that you did it. The hope is that you pissed them off enough...in a fit of rage; they will annihilate you and your career. Oh, please taser me, please, please! The annihilation of a career is a lot more attention seeking than complaining about an intermittent shorted electrical pump.

    The tasering in a heck of a lot more sexy than chaining your self to a trash can.

    At the end of the day, it's attention getting that solves problems, why play fair about.

    If there are accidents in the future that make or cause death or injury, great economic consequence....nobody can stop it...there are smart tricks and tools...attention gaining...that can head off the accident. You might not be able to save your job or career...but you can head off the death or injury.

    Never except an on coming death or injury...always use your head...never give up!
    What should the police have done ?
    Authored by: Maus Anon E on Monday, February 11 2008 @ 08:32 PM GMT+4
    ***So what should have the police done?***
    First, they should have followed orders. They should have been smarter than the protesters. They could have issued citations and left. There was no need to escalate the situation.
    I'd say if the protesters wanted a media circus, the police played right into their hands and created a big scene for them. The tasing gave the situation much more media play - we're still talking about it.

    I don't want a para-military force that enforces the compliance of the populace with cattle prods, which is essentially what you have under the current (no pun intended) regulations. Tasers simply should not be used to gain the compliance of non-violent suspects - and there is a growing number of police policy advocates that agree.

    It also seems contrary to most police "ladder of force" training, which suggest officers should meet such challenges with the minimum necessary force to avoid escalating the confrontation. There are a number of police training sources now recommending that the taser be put just below firearms on the "ladder," above pepper spray, batons, pain compliance techniques, and verbal commands.
    Nobody suggests moving from verbal commands to tasers.

    -Maus


    ---
    Psyche!
    Brattleboro Tasing Incident Report - Police Used Excessive Force
    Authored by: MMulligan on Monday, February 11 2008 @ 10:06 PM GMT+4
    Actually, we all learned this from the crucifixion of Jesus...he was our first successful attention seeking whistleblower...?

    Brattleboro Tasing Incident Report - Police Used Excessive Force
    Authored by: MMulligan on Monday, February 11 2008 @ 10:19 PM GMT+4
    Come on, we’d still be in the 1950’s, if the southerners didn’t beat the blacks....if we didn’t arrest MLK. Will you people grow up?

    A sacrifice for the greater good is a necessity in all great movements.



    Brattleboro Tasing Incident Report - Police Used Excessive Force
    Authored by: Azrael on Wednesday, February 13 2008 @ 04:08 PM GMT+4
    "So what should have the police done? "

    Well apparently Tasering someone whos refusing to obey the law and put themselves in a position where if you try and move them it could seriously injure them isn't okay. Maybe next time someone should try water boarding them the US AG says it legal right *L*

    AZ
    Where is the lock and bolt cutters
    Authored by: MMulligan on Wednesday, February 13 2008 @ 05:16 PM GMT+4
    I think chief Martin should have been there...he should have told his officers that I want to be there....don’t do anything until I observe you. I think the chief should have called a brainstorming secession...ask the prosecutor if they could use a taser.

    I’d like to know what is in the trunk of a police cruiser? What if that trunk had a master key in it...or a lock and chain cutter....they whole thing would have played out differently. Does the police have a chain cutter?

    How about calling up the road crew....some department of the town....where they could cut the lock and remove the barrel. I bet you that are a lot of work for the protesters making and transporting the barrel....and the public works department could remove it without expending much energy. Who is going to win that game in the end, the team of the police and the public works department? It would be funny as heck removing that barrel...I be laughing at the protestors. I dare them to do it again....no b***s.

    You could always charge the protestors for this work...and bang them around in the courts with paying.






    Brattleboro Tasing Incident Report - Police Used Excessive Force
    Authored by: MMulligan on Thursday, February 21 2008 @ 02:25 AM GMT+4
    It always interesting when one incident interact with another event. Now you got to ask, what is it about the small town politics, such as Brattleboro and Springfield...that creates tyrannical police chiefs...and 1950’s style procedures and bureaucracies.

    It’s there any state oversight on the town and city policy force...standards...criticism!

    http://www.rutlandherald.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080220/NEWS04/802200389/1003/NEWS02
    Union seeks to oust chief

    February 20, 2008
    By Susan Smallheer Herald Staff


    SPRINGFIELD — Unionized employees of the Springfield Police Department voted late Monday to ask for the ouster of Chief Douglas Johnston.

    A letter sent to Town Manager Robert Forguites cited hostile working conditions, inadequate and chronic understaffing and overtime, high turnover, and "outdated and unworkable policies, procedures and rules."

    Morancy said the police department wanted a study of issues facing the department similar to one that was conducted last summer for the Brattleboro Police Department.

    That study contributed to the firing of Brattleboro Police Chief John Martin, who is now fighting his dismissal.