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Saturday, September 30, 2023


STAFF EDITORIAL: Tasers not the right solution to campus crime

The campus crime rate is rising, but the UH Police Department’s proposed solution doesn’t make us feel any safer.

UHPD is considering using Tasers on campus, a move we do not support.

Much controversy surrounds the weapon, and we believe it’s for good reason. The most notorious is probably that surrounding an incident at the University of Florida, when, in 2007, campus police Tasered a student at a political event where John Kerry was speaking, spawning the proverbial phrase heard ’round the world, "Don’t tase me, bro."

Critics say the police used excessive force on the student, who was trying to ask Kerry a question, while others say the student was resisting arrest and police action was justified.

On the University of California, Los Angeles campus, a student was stunned with a Taser at least four times, The Daily Bruin reported, when he did not show officers his school identification card or exit the school’s library "in a timely manner" when asked.

Amateur videos of these and a number of other incidents litter the Internet, showing individuals being stunned during what appear to be routine traffic stops or calm situations.

While these videos and abuse allegations alone aren’t sufficient support for an argument against the use of the weapon, they do show how complicated and dangerous situations involving them can get.

But our argument isn’t founded on those videos.

The Houston Chronicle reported Sept. 8 that an audit of the Houston Police Department’s use of the weapon indicated it was more likely to be used on blacks. On top of that, the audit "found nothing to indicate a reduction in the number of officer-involved shootings since the introduction of Tasers."

The increase in crime at UH is serious and must be addressed, but we do not feel the solution is introducing Taser to campus – an addition that would cost the department $800 a piece, along with an additional $600 for a built-in camcorder to monitor the use.

The safety of the University community and its officers is important, and we believe a better way to ensure it is to increase the number of officers visible on campus.

By having a greater presence, UHPD would do more to deter crime than it would by giving the same number of officers another weapon. A weapon can only be used after or during a crime, while a greater presence would discourage many perpetrators from attempting to commit one.

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