Cops and Tasers; A Good Thing? YES!

Posted by: John W. Zimmer
Under: Police, Self-defense
10 Dec 2013


This is outside of my normal post but near and dear to my heart. Let me explain. When I was young man I often had to escort patrons of the bar I worked outside. Often they did not willingly go. I had to call the cops at time for an assist but back then cops did not have tasers in their arsenal.  The only non-lethal weapons the cops had at the time was their version of club (a type of tongfa) and mace.


Back then if you did not follow the cop’s directions – they had to get up close to you to use non-lethal weapons. This did not always go well for the cops as in the case of Sagon Penn. In that highly charged San Diego incident where a suspect allegedly was being treated bad – the suspect did not allow himself to be arrested, grabbed the cops gun and shot the officer and civilian.  So in that context I will talk about how dangerous a cop’s job is from a self defense point of view and explore the current use of tasers.



I used to think that being a police officer would be a great job and although I heard it was dangerous – I assumed because police carried guns – it really was safe. Then as a teenager I studied karate and was amazed at the damage a trained fighter could do in a short amount of time. I started to fight tournaments and work the door as a bouncer and finally realized how lucky I was that no police agency ever hired me.


Lessons I learned:

  • There is no for sure safe and legal way one officer and take one non-compliant person into custody.
  • Inside of critical distance – the first one that moves and piles on – is usually the winner.
  • Cops are taught to treat people fairly and legally.
  • The only safe way (to the cop) to take someone into custody is to incapacitate them (knock them out, zap them, group attack them).
  • It is safer to have multiple cops on scene to arrest a suspect so if something goes wrong – they can all help out.


So what would I do if I was a cop and had to put cuffs on a uncooperative suspect? At the very least before I got close to them I would have them lie on the pavement face down – arms behind their head. I’d have a couple of cops one hand to grab the suspect so he could not do anything while I was trying to cuff him.


Failing that I would knock the suspect out and then cuff him. Here is the thing that most people do not realize – being a cop is not easy. Not only do you have to deal with bad people – you have to be fair at all times if one ever wants to win a court case and put the criminals in jail.


So cops cannot generally use their clubs, pepper spray, and tasers on suspects that comply (or the cops would catch hell with the public and juries).


But these non-lethal weapons are not always 100% safe. One can accidentally maim or kill a person with a club.  One can have an allergic reaction to mace or pepper spray. One can also die from a taser.


The non-lethal weapons are preferable to shooting a non-compliant suspect and generally all will go well with the non-lethal weapons in most cases. Sometimes a suspect will get hurt or die with these non-lethal weapons.


So what is the solution? I don’t think there is a way to keep some non-compliant suspects from getting injured as they get taken into custody.


I don’t think it is fair to expect cops to risk their lives by allowing themselves to get beat up or worse if their suspect happens to be a trained fighter (or smoked angel dust).


We already ask cops to risk their lives on our behalf to get criminals off of the street. Sometimes criminals don’t go easily and fight back. I would rather any criminals that fight back risk their lives!


Here is my solution. If a cop tries to arrest you… GIVE UP!!! Go peacefully!   If you disagree – hire a good lawyer but Don’t Fight Back!


I found this article that really upset me here. 


The article seems to be reporting how cops and taser manufacturers have updated their methods and guidance. But they do not point out the need for weapons of this type.


The article points to a criminal (18 year old) that spray paints (tagging) public property. While I would agree that tagging is not what we think of a violent felony – attacking the police is a violent felony. The man did not submit to being arrested and charged the cops.


What should the cops have done? Let the guy go? Beat the guy with their night sticks? What the cops did do was to taser him. The cops were put in a bad situation.


What should the suspect have done? Give up!


So as sad as it is seeing people get hurt or expire while getting taken into custody – I would much rather see the criminals get hurt then the cops.


So if you have criminal tendencies or know some one that has – Give them this secret: If you get caught in the commission of a crime – give up. Its not worth your life or the cops life because you want to break the law.


I am so thankful that our cops go out in to the neighborhoods every day and try to hold society together.



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9 Responses to “Cops and Tasers; A Good Thing? YES!”

  1. Dr. J Says:

    I’ve known several officers and had interactions with many police officers. No different than other people, some good, some not. From my experience the most dangerous weapon they have is not their gun, it’s their car! I’ve seen some serious carnage done to innocent bystanders from an officer of the law putting the mission to chase and catch a perp over good sense.
    Dr. J recently posted..Iliotibial Band Syndrome and Knee PainMy Profile

  2. John W. Zimmer Says:

    Hi Dr. J!

    Yep those 2000 pound missals can be worrisome. Luckily there is some logic as to when an officer backs off. There was an incident here in Lakeside where some school kids got hit during a chase.

  3. stephen Says:

    Police work is not dangerous. It does not even make the annual top 10 most dangerous jobs according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, which specifies that trash collectors, construction workers and taxi drivers all face more dangers and on-the-job fatalities than police, even when common traffic accidents are included to artificially inflate police fatality rates.

    The first half of 2012 produced the lowest police fatality rate since record keeping began at the end of World War II.

    The myth that police work is “dangerous” is a lie that needs to be eradicated from our culture. Police are over-armed, militarized and preoccupied with “officer safety” at all costs. They view us as the enemy.

    Police do not “hold society together.” On the contrary, Dept of Justice statistics show that law-abiding citizens are 26% more likely to be shot and killed by a police officer than a private sector criminal.

    Perhaps America should reconsider its glorification of police and base our views on statistical fact, not myth and state worship.

  4. John W. Zimmer Says:

    Hi Stephen,

    It sounds like you would not mind anarchy? I tend to believe that some people on the fringe obey most laws because they would get in trouble with the law otherwise.

    as far as statistics – I’m not sure if you are right but I do know that the overall crime rate has dropped according to the FBI crime stats. I guess that would include cops.

    I attributed the lower crime rate to the get tough laws passed in the 90’s such as the three strikes law in California.

    As this is a “self-defense” blog I speak about issues important to me. One such issue is cops or anyone trying to subdue an opponent with anything less than overwhelming force.

    Trying to put someone in cuffs if they fight back is dangerous. There is no two ways about it. I believe I made that point in my article.

    If someone breaks the law and fight back – one should not worship the crook and give him all the breaks but rather take him down in a prudent manner.

    So cabbies are not in a dangerous profession per se… but if they are in a high crime area – they are more likely to get robbed.

    The same area – the cops are more likely to have resisters and get hurt.

    One area I will agree with you on – some cops are bad apples but we need cops and we need crooks to listen to cops when arrested.

    Failing that we will have a society fall into disarray. There is no reasonable alternative.

  5. Warren Says:

    John, interesting thread. One comment on Stephan saying police work is not dangerous because of the declining number of officer on duty deaths. In recent decades the KIA numbers are down but the officer injured stats are way up because of more combative suspects and because of improved equipment such as tasers and body armor but also because of better training on defensive tactics and arrest procedures. The number of officers injured annually is huge and growing while suspects are more agressive and unwilling to submit to judgement by a jury of their peers. Man up guys, don’t do the crime if you can’t or won’t do the time.

  6. John W. Zimmer Says:

    Hi Warren! Sage advice!

    I used to think the carry along (getting sit-in type of protesters to get up and out of an area with the aid of a billy club assisted arm lock) was mean and the cops just did not want to do any work… later as I read more – work place injuries (picking up unwilling people)to police was the result of “being nice.” So I understand more the impossible situation cops get put into sometimes. :)

  7. Warren Says:

    Sit in protesting is pretty rare these days but I recall that picking up a purposely “limp” individual is practically impossible for one or even two people. That’s why the baton lift is used to both get something solid to lift with and also to elicite some minimal amount of cooperation. Either way, back, shoulder and arm injuries are commonplace among officers after such demonstrations. Now a days, simple resisting arrest injuries are common because the older, more forceful but effective techniques have been deemed too severe. With many officers being below average height for males and lots of females the suspects have distinct advantages in one on one situations. One Florida police chief issued a policy (since rescinded due to lawsuits)of “stunning” all felony suspects prior to handcuffing. Injuries to both officers and suspects dropped to zero but the practice was ruled “excessive” and discontinued.

  8. Matt Klein Says:

    Hi John. Back in the day before lasers, cops were allowed to put in the boot or clip you upside the head. With that taken away, many crims think they can get away with giving cops lip or not giving up.

    We had a defensive tackle on our high school football team who was big (about 265), mean, and picked up a bad habit–PCP or Angel Dust. One night he got aggro and it took about seven cops to get him in the car. He hurt three of them enough to send them to hospital. When they finally got him in the car he kicked out the rear window and as they were driving down the Interstate, tried to climb out, cutting himself badly. I think they would have had a better result with the taser, IMHO. The taser is necessary due to bad apples making it necessary.

  9. John W. Zimmer Says:

    Hi Matt! Yep I’m with you. I remember once Larry McGraw had an altercation with a biker on angel dust. He he to break the guys legs to keep him down… a taser would have been a better way.