Xpress staff approves use of police shock weapons with proper training

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CartoonCartoon by Kirstie Haruta

With 24-hour door monitoring and increased in-and-out visitor registration being enforced in the dorms, it’s clear that campus security is on the rise. But what paramounts all efforts to improve security is the fact that University Police are now being trained and equipped with electroshock weapons, more commonly referred to as stun guns.

After multiple non-residents were arrested at Mary Ward Hall last spring semester, and an armed robbery took place on Buckingham Way last February, safety concerns have understandably raised questions about the security of students on campus. However, the discussion revolved around whether moving to stun gun usage is appropriate has been rattling through the halls at SF State.

By training and arming UPD with stun gun weapons, the police are being equipped with a method of subduing a possible threat that is less deadly than a handgun. We should accept the new means of security as an attempt to provide more less lethal options to UPD. However, we should also demand that proper training is in place.

In the wake of the deaths of multiple San Jose State University students, and a recent FBI report citing an increase last year in violent crime in the Bay Area, it makes sense for UPD to want to increase security on campus.

Though SF State is striving for further security through the use of new weaponry, San Francisco has been reluctant to accept the same tool.

The San Francisco Police Department was turned down in 2004 and 2010 by the police commission to arm the SFPD with Taser weapons. In such a large city with violent crime on the rise according to a recent FBI report, having traditional firearms and batons — both at extremes of the weapons spectrum — and no alternative can prove troublesome.

Being properly trained on how to use an electroshock weapon and under what sort of situations to use one is of the utmost importance. Though stun guns are less lethal than guns in all situations, they have been known to kill.

According to the 2013 Amnesty International annual report, “At least 42 people across 20 states died after being struck by police Tasers, bringing the total number of such deaths since 2001 to 540.”

In contrast, a study from Wake Forest University School of Medicine found that in 1,000 cases where law enforcement used Tasers, 99.7 percent of those who were shocked were only mildly injured.

Appropriately knowing how and when to use any form of a weapon is something that law enforcement should be well-trained on. Equipping University Police with these arms is important to securing the safety of University students, just as much as properly setting up the protocol and importance of knowing how and when to use these weapons.