Knesset: Taser use by police is rising

Committee rules that despite large number of civilian complaints, there is still not enough solid research to determine that there are health drawbacks from being tased.

Taser gun (photo credit: Reuters)
Taser gun
(photo credit: Reuters)
There was a marked increase in the use of Tasers by Israel Police in 2012 over 2011.
According to a report by the Knesset’s Science and Research Committee, which was compiled in May but released last week, there were 472 instances in which police used a Taser in 2012, over 385 in 2011.
The report says that when factoring in an additional 109 incidents involving the Border Police, Special Patrol Unit (Yasam) and police detective units, the number climbs to 581.
The most dramatic increase was in the Tel Aviv District, where there were 173 incidents in 2012 over 115 a year before.
The report does not include figures for 2010, the first year that the Taser went into widespread service with Israel Police, and does not specify the ethnic, religious, or national background of the people who were tased.
The figures are compiled from the memory cards in the Tasers, the report states.
The report also quotes an attorney from the Justice Ministry’s unit for investigating police as saying that since 2010 they have seen a large number of citizen complaints about the use of Tasers, but that most of those incidents fell within the guidelines for using Tasers, or diverged only slightly from the rules.
The committee rules that despite the large number of civilian complaints about the use of Tasers, there is still not enough solid research to determine that there are health drawbacks from being tased.
The report states that while such questions are still disputed and a direct connection hasn’t been proven between the use of Tasers and fatalities, there is evidence that the use of Tasers increases the chance of serious injury and death in certain people, including drug addicts or people with heart problems.
The Israel Police use the M- 26 model Taser manufactured by the American company Taser International, which shoots two metal darts that pierce the skin of the target and emit a pulse of 5,000 volts.
Meanwhile, the Justice Ministry is weighing an indictment against a Tel Aviv officer for Taser-gun use. In mid-August, police use of Tasers came under the spotlight after a highly-publicized arrest of settler Boaz Albert, who was filmed being tased repeatedly by Yasam officers who came to his house to arrest him for violating a restraining order.
The incident led Israel Police Insp.-Gen. Yohanan Danino to suspend the use of Taser guns by police pending the results of the investigation into Albert’s arrest.