The commissioner announced a freeze on use of Tasers as shock weapons a few weeks ago, and the appointment of an investigatory team in response to the storm of criticism following the arrest of Yitzhar right wing activist Boaz Albert. In a filmed clip, a police officer is seen holding his stun gun and threatening to shock Albert, as Albert pleads against it and declares that he is not resisting arrest – all in front of his detained children.
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The investigatory team, led by the head of the director of the police's emergency division, Commander Morris Chen, presented its findings and concluded that the main cause of the sequence of unusual events which led to the decision of the commissioner, was the human element.
“The combination of a low level of familiarity with procedure, on one hand, and lack of discipline and restraint of power on another, created a platform for the occurrence of these unusual events," the investigatory team stated in its conclusions. "There is no dispute regarding the device’s effectiveness as a nonlethal manner of enforcement, with correct operations, maintaining the security of the officer and limiting the risk of fatal injury to the suspect. This alternative is first and foremost to protect citizens.”
The investigatory team suggested that operational procedures for Tasers carried buy officers be updated, and that rules for their use and procedures for reporting their use be reviewed.
Arrest of Boaz Albert
The team also recommended that officials appoint someone within the police units to be responsible for introducing the new procedures to officers, analyzing incidents involving Taser use, producing lessons on their use, and ensuring proper implementation. The team also recommended disciplinary procedures be instituted for cases in which operations deviate from accepted procedure. The gradual return of Taser use will be approved only for units and officers who have had refresher training in accordance with the new procedures.
Major use since 2011
Police explained that the investigatory team examined two issues: The operational effectiveness of the Taser, and the question, is it possible to separate the Taser from a shocker. The examination included regulations for operating a shocker, methods in Israel and throughout the world for using shockers, and the findings of a comprehensive survey to which the various unit commanders had responded.
According to police, the Taser was introduced for use in Israeli law enforcement on an operational level in 2011. There are currently around 500 Taser devices in service, and about 1,800 veteran police officers who have been specially trained and authorized to use the device.
Commander Chen said Tuesday that there were approximately 1,000 incidents in which the Taser was used as a stun gun since its introduction to the police force some two years ago. He added that during this period, there were only a few dozen complaints about use of the instrument and less than 10 were flagged for Internal Affairs or police investigation.
“Our impression is that in exceptional cases the implementation of operational procedure was flawed, thus additional instruction is necessary,” Chen said. He estimated that the Taser would return to full use by the police force within two to three weeks after the holidays.
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