One of the new technology police officers are taking advantage of are the Stun Guns. Stun gun, hand-held electronic device that produces a high-voltage pulse that can immobilize a person for several minutes with no permanent damage in most cases. It is powered by ordinary batteries, which supply power to a circuit containing transformers, oscillators, capacitors, and electrodes. A Taser works by creating an electrical circuit, a closed path through which electricity travels. A battery in the gun supplies the electricity. When the gun is not in use, the electricity can’t flow through it and complete the circuit, because the two darts are not in contact with each other. But when the darts hit a person, they can stick to skin or clothing. The person’s body then closes the circuit, and electricity flows through it, delivering a powerful shock. A series of shocks can be delivered to the same person, once the darts have implanted them-selves. The strength of an electric current is measured in two ways. One measure, called amperage, is the amount of electricity that flows in the circuit. Amperage is like the amount of water that flows through a hose.
The second measure, called voltage, is the amount of force behind the electricity. Voltage is like the pressure of water in a hose. Stun guns are designed to be non-lethal–to have a high voltage but a low amperage. In other words, the guns put a lot of pressure behind low-intensity electricity–like a hose that shoots a thin stream of water. The high voltage allows the current from the darts to jump through even thick clothing, but the low amperage limits the amount of electricity flooding through the body (Jozefowicz, 2006). Supporters say that electroshock guns are a safer alternative to devices such as firearms. TASER International uses the term “non-lethal” as defined by the United States Department of Defense – which does not mean the weapon cannot cause death, but that it is not intended to be fatal. Non-lethal weapons are defined as “weapons that are explicitly designed and primarily employed so as to incapacitate personnel or material, while minimizing fatalities, permanent injury to personnel, and undesired damage to property and the environment.”
Supporters say that electroshock weapons and tasers are more effective than other means including pepper-spray (an eye/breathing irritant), batons or other conventional ways of inflicting pain, even hand guns, at bringing a subject down to the ground with a minimum physical exertion (Agnes, 2004, p. 1423). I am for police stun guns and I believe stun guns are great because they’re used instead of deadly force, but unfortunately most of the time, they’re used instead of yelling, handcuffing, and repeating instructions. It should be required that the stun gun spray ink on the hands of the person who discharges it, then at least the people would have some incentive to use restraint with them. Or maybe even put a counter on it, so the cop has to write a report of why he discharged it. Stun guns do not kill (except in very odd cases) help protect both the police and the person they are up against from being too hurt. Critics, however, charge that police officers who are risk-averse resort to tasers in situations where previously they would have used more conventional, less “extreme” techniques, such as trying to reason with a cornered suspect.
Another new technology that not only police officers are taking advantage, but also the public is the patrol car video surveillance. One of the biggest limitations of police officers and other agents of the law is the inability to properly assess a large or dangerous situation in times of need. Errors in judgment about riots, car chases or other instances of civil disobedience could wreak havoc and cause danger to innocent bystanders, participants, or the officers themselves. Video surveillance cameras and other methods of communication between officers provide a valuable solution to a pressing problem. Surveillance methods used by officers and police departments may vary, and can be anything from a video surveillance camera mounted on the dashboard of a patrol car or the skids of a helicopter, to an unmanned aerial drone or a red light camera at an intersection.
Each of these surveillance cameras brings a different benefit to police officers and has been valuable in times of need. As freeways and interstate travel became more popular, more and more police officers and state troopers were needed on highways and interstates to control speeding, drunk driving, and other unsafe driving practices like tailgating. As behaviors like road rage became more widespread, unwarranted attacks on officers increased. Dash-mounted video surveillance cameras recorded these attacks and provided evidence in the prosecution of the attackers (Agnes, 2004, p. 1517).
A patrol car’s video camera can prove to be a powerful training tool that allows the police to carefully review actual patrol stops, and subsequently help their officers to identify potential safety or procedural problems that may require modification or improvement. They also help in preparing evidence for court. In regard to stun guns, I believe that many police agencies consider a stun gun as a welcomed alternative to the deadly force of a conventional gun.
Agnes, Michael (2004). Webster’s New World College Dictionary (4th ed.). Cleveland, Ohio:Wiley.
Jozefowicz, C. (2006). “Undue force? Taser stun guns are designed to be nonlethal, but criticssay the guns have killed some people.” Retrieved December 9, 2007, from CurrentScience, a Weekly Reader publication 91.12 (March 3, 2006): 10(5). GeneralOneFile. Gale. University of Phoenix
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