Thursday, May 15, 2008

POLICE PSYCHOLOGISTS SAYS COPS HAVE BEEN 'BRAINWASHED' ABOUT TASERS

Neal Hall, Vancouver Sun - A police psychologist blasted Taser International at the public inquiry probing the controversial use of Tasers, claiming that Canadian police have been "brainwashed" by the manufacturer to justify "ridiculously inappropriate" use of the electronic weapon.0514 11

Mike Webster accused the company that makes Tasers of instructing police in Canada that when they encounter a person suffering from a "mythical" condition that Taser calls "excited delirium," police have few options other than jolting the person with the controversial electrical weapon, which delivers a five-second shock that incapacitates a person.

"When you think the only tool you have is a hammer, then the whole world begins looking like a nail," Webster told the inquiry in Vancouver.

Excited delirium is not a recognized medical diagnosis, he said, but is a "dubious disorder" used by Taser International in its training of police in Canada and the U.S.

The term is also used by the Institute for the Prevention of In-custody Deaths, which is headed by John Peters, a business associate of Taser International of Arizona. . .

"It may be that police and medical examiners are using the term [excited delirium] as a convenient excuse for what could be excessive use of force or inappropriate control techniques during an arrest," Webster said.

"My own opinion on this is that Canadian law enforcement, and its American brothers and sisters, have been brainwashed by companies like Taser International and the Institute for the Prevention of In-custody Deaths," he added.

"These organizations have created a virtual world replete with avatars that wander about with the potential to manifest a horrific condition characterized by profuse sweating, superhuman strength and a penchant for smashing glass that appeals to well-meaning but psychologically unsophisticated police personnel," Webster said. . .

"It is neither humane nor logical to inflict crippling pain upon someone who has lost his mental balance," Webster told Braidwood.

Police need to create a non-threatening environment to defuse crisis situations by using calm communications skills and neutral body language, he said.

He suggested people who are agitated are in a state of hyper-arousal, which disrupts a person’s ability to process information, including police commands, and causes unpredictable behavior.

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