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Review your Taser use policies

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Review your Taser use policies

Hospital security experts say you should be constantly reviewing your policies to determine whether Tasers (or other weapons) are appropriate for your facility. Here are some things to consider:

Facility size. If you're a small rural hospital in a quiet community, your needs will be different from that of a larger city hospital. Your decision to arm security staff should focus largely on risk factors such as the population likely to come through your doors. Do you have gang activity or a large population of behavioral health or forensics patients in your facility? These factors may drive your decision.

Train your officers that Tasers can kill. Many hospital security departments are turning to Tasers because they are less lethal than guns. But deaths still occur from their use, as the Moore Regional case shows. When employing them, you are in fact shocking the victim, which can cause cardiac arrest or a fall. Users should always be properly trained, and must only be used as a last resort against someone who is a deadly threat. Officers responding to an unruly patient should always consider non-lethal verbal commands or de-escalation tactics first.

Put the word Taser in your protocols. Attorneys studying the court opinion say strong and specifically worded protocols should be developed for officers to follow when considering Taser use. Therefore, it should be outlined exactly when Taser use would be appropriate (and when it is not), and when it's better to defuse it with less dangerous tactics. For instance, officials at Swedish Medical Center Seattle have made it clear that Tasers will never be used on a patient. A Fourth Amendment lawsuit would take into consideration not only the reasonable use of force warranted in a given situation, but also whether the officer followed written department protocols.

Training is paramount. Tasers are available to most people on the open market, but they should not be used without proper training. If you are going to allow them for officer use, make sure anyone tasked with using them gets proper training and certification. Even better, send at least one representative from your department to get certification from Taser International's train-the-trainer program to help train your officers and conduct drills.




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