MPD Releases New Policy on Use of Tasers

By: Zac Schultz
By: Zac Schultz

Madison: Madison Police Officers should only use Tasers to overcome violent or assaultive behavior. That's the message after the police adjusted their policy on the use of Tasers.

"We needed to tighten up the language in our policy," says Police Chief Noble Wray.

Previously, the use of Tasers was much lower on the force continuum- meaning officers could use Tasers to control subjects or force them to obey orders.

The changes are the result of recent public hearings and an internal review.

In January a police officer shot a 14-year-old Memorial High School student with a Taser while making an arrest. The boy was running away from the officer when he was shot in the back.

The officer was cleared of wrongdoing, but Chief Wray says the incident prompted the review. "It was a catalyst locally for public attention."

Lt. Cameron McLay says the Memorial High shooting would not be allowed under the new rules.

"Under the circumstances where a subject is fleeing from a police officer the officer is not to use a Taser-unless the officer reasonably believes there is a greater risk to the community if this person isn't quickly taken into control."

Under the new policy Tasers are not allowed under the following circumstances:

  • For coercion or intimidation

  • To prod subjects

  • To awaken intoxicated people

  • On people offering passive resistance.

Taser use is also prohibited except in rare circumstances against:

  • Handcuffed subjects

  • People fleeing on foot

  • Someone operating a motor vehicle.

Chief Wray says the old policy wasn't wrong, it just needed to be updated to fit what is socially acceptable.

"What I believe what the citizens were saying and what I was hearing internally is that we need to tighten up the policy. And we need to do that in such a way that it reflects the community standard."

All officers will be retrained starting Tuesday on the changes in the Taser policy.

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