There’s a news report this morning in the Sydney Morning Herald that despite Tasers being issued to their police forces the police are still drawing their sidearms at the same rate. While I would love to see the use of deadly force drop as much as the next person the comparison of the two statistics isn’t really accurate…
Most people believe the Taser is a replacement for a firearm, and that’s simply not true. The Taser’s place in the escalation of force algorithm is right about the same level as a police baton — where physical force used to be required to get a suspect to comply, now electricity does all the work.
Deadly force is still the top of the chart, and the requirements to go there haven’t changed since before it was introduced (about 2008 for Australia). A situation that required deadly force before hasn’t been reclassified just because the Taser is available. If anything, with the rising crime rate in Australia I would have expected the rate of firearms being drawn to have increased as well. A better comparison would be the rate of Taser use compared to the rate of hospitalization due to injuries sustained from the police.
As with every statistical comparison, don’t fall for the trap of false equivalences. Just because more apples are being sold it doesn’t necessarily mean that bananas are decreasing in popularity.