Taser Legislation Under Discussion

Some of the proposals before the legislature concerning Tasers or stun guns could limit or even stop their use. Democratic Representative Garnet Coleman of Houston is proposing a statewide policy for stun gun use. The bill would stop police agencies from purchasing or using a Taser during the year 2008, giving time for a policy to be adopted.

The police chief in Nacogdoches supports half that idea.   Chief Jim Sevey said,  " I don't think a state policy is a problem, but I don't think the use of Tasers should be curtailed anytime. Tasers, there's a lot of fact and fiction and myth about Tasers out there and I don't believe Tasers should be classified as a deadly weapon."

Texas police agencies have increasingly turned to Tasers as a tool for subduing suspects. They say the stun guns give officers a safer option when they might otherwise have to fight or shoot someone.

The chief believes policies now used by departments do not vary greatly. He thinks training, direct guidelines and thorough investigations after the use of stun guns can prevent their misuse.

Critics contend minorities are disproportionately the target of police Taser use. They also say the stun guns haven't reduced officers' use of deadly force. Sevey said, " In this department every use of force is investigated. No matter what is used or who it is used on."

Democratic Representative Lon Burnam of Fort Worth says the Tasers can be a good tool if used correctly. He has filed several Taser bills, including one that would create a statewide training program for officers.

(Some information for this story from: Houston Chronicle as provided by Associated Press)