Wake County Sheriff To Stop Issuing Tasers Over Excessive Force Concerns

Wake County Sheriff's Office Legal adviser Rick Brown said that deputies will just have to "go hands-on" instead.

Raleigh, NC – Electronic Control Devices (ECDs) will no longer be issued to new Wake County Sheriff’s Office (WCSO) deputies due to changes to the department’s use-of-force policy.

WCSO legal adviser Rick Brown said that Wake County Sheriff Gerald Baker decided to phase out the department’s use of the less-lethal tool in response to a 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling, WRAL reported.

In that case, the court determined that use of Tasers may qualify as excessive force in some situations.

Instead of risking liability, the sheriff decided to stop issuing the weapons altogether.

New hires will not be issued ECDs, and when the ECDs deputies are currently carrying stop working, they won’t receive new ones.

With one less tool at their disposal, deputies will be forced to “go hands-on” with combative suspects instead, Brown told WRAL.

Deputies may use baton strikes in place of the ECD weapons.

"Are they happy about it? Of course not. Who would be?" Brown told the news outlet. "By the same token, they are willing to do their job. They don't want to hurt anybody. That's not their job."

The sheriff’s decision to phase out the department’s ECDs was one of several policy changes announced during a deputy training session on Tuesday.

Brown said that de-escalation and patience are at the forefront of the WCSO’s new use-of-force policy.

"What's the person's problem? Can they be reasoned with? What kind of a threat are they to themselves and the officer?" Brown asked the deputies.

"[You need to know] all those things to have sufficient facts before using force,” he declared.

Brown said it is important to gain the public’s trust, and that using force during an encounter should be a last resort.

“We cannot have law enforcement that the public does not believe that law enforcement does not have integrity, and part of that is proper use of force," he told WRAL.

The WCSO will also be making changes to when and how K9s can be deployed, Brown added.

Alterations to the department’s vehicle pursuit policy have also been implemented.

Instead of leaving deputies to decide when to initiate and end a chase, that call will now be made by supervisors.

"There have been studies to show that you don't want somebody who has to concentrate on the driving skills that it takes to pursue somebody to be aware of all these other factors” such as the seriousness of the initial offense, pedestrians, weather conditions, and traffic, Brown told WRAL.

Comments (53)
No. 1-25
Gap Filler
Gap Filler

And I don't think a supervisor who really doesn't have much more in the way of training should be making these calls either. Are they trained therapists? Psychiatrists? Is the senior officer there at the point of critical decision-making time? Usually not and they won't be. And going "hands-on" is certainly going to be a lot more likely to reduce the number of excessive force complaints isn't it?

What moron thought that up? If anything excessive force complaints are on the rise and have nothing to do with tasers! This departments solution is to reintroduce the baton, a favored weapon among those in the black community and sure to garner involvement from the NAACP as a national organization.

This is an ill-advised moved on this departments part and will subject their department to all kinds of litigation and their officers to all kinds of undue bodily harm.

LEO0301
LEO0301

Another department making a tremendously difficult job even harder. Maybe they should teach their officers hypnosis and the Doctor Spock mind meld along with that thing where Spock touches your shoulder and out you go! If that doesn't work, get back in your cars and take a lunch break.

JBo
JBo

Perhaps the sheriff doesn't realize that any force used by any tools or means can be ruled excessive if used improperly or without training and supervision. That's the nature of force.

K-9 319
K-9 319

Lets see now, you get into an altercation, and are on the losing end of it. Instead of using the taser to assist you and defuse the situation, just SHOOT the individual. There, that defused the situation. Who the hell thinks up these stupid things to tie the Officers hands even more. May God protect our LEOs because just about everybody else isn't.

Officer Cynical
Officer Cynical

No news here. Just one more administrator who doesn't give two shits about the men and women working the streets, and who's too lazy to revise use-of-force guidelines on Taser usage when "de-escalation and patience" don't work. As JBo pointed out, every force level can "qualify as excessive force in some situations".