Tasers save money? UPDATED

UPDATE Tuesday April 8: From Allen Gilbert via email: Testimony on the Taser regulation bill (H.225) has been scheduled for tomorrow (Wednesday) in the Senate Government Operations Committee. […] If you haven't already contacted the five senators by email or other means, please do so within the next 24 hours. [See below for names and contact info. ~ NanuqFC]

In the debate over the use of Tasers one of the claims made by Taser proponents is that the use of Tasers saves police departments money because their people are less likely to be injured, and that as a consequence they save money on their workers' comp premiums.

One might be forgiven for questioning whether the cost savings justify the severe injuries and fatalities suffered by people injured by Tasers, but there's more to the story.

A report just completed by the Vermont chapter of the ACLU demonstrates that Vermont's taxpayers are paying hundreds of thousands of dollars for the improper police deployment of Tasers.

Here's the report, reprinted, of course, by permission.

 Police Abuse Of Tasers Costs State Over $250,000



Taser gunThe total keeps growing the deeper we dig into police records. State government and local towns have paid out $269,500 since 2006 in seven different lawsuits alleging Taser abuse by Vermont police.


If the bill that's passed the House and is now in the Senate becomes law, the lawsuits will likely continue. That's because the House bill codifies the existing Taser deployment standard — a standard that allows police to use the powerful weapons on anybody “actively resisting” an officer. “Active resistance” includes a subject crossing his arms over his chest, or even protestors who have chained themselves to a barrel and refuse to move. No immediate threat to anyone's safety is needed to justify a 50,000-volt shock.


We'll be fighting in the Senate for a new standard — a standard that says Tasers should only be used to reduce an immediate threat of serious injury or expected death to a subject or others. We'll also be fighting for measurement and calibration of Tasers' electrical charge; that's crucial to the weapons' safer operation but isn't currently required. We also want officers to carry cameras when they carry Tasers; even Taser International's CEO says cameras can reduce abuse. Finally, we want civilian review of incidents involving Tasers. Internal reviews don't bring the impartiality and objectivity that independent panels do.


The bill is now in the Senate Government Operations Committee. If you know any of the committee members, send them an e-mail. Tell them you want a Taser bill that stops the abuses that so far have cost the state over a quarter million dollars — as well as the death of a disturbed, epileptic man, and unnecessary injuries to others. Mention the need for calibration, cameras, and civilian review, too.  


For more information on Tasers and their use, navigate to our Taser research series:


Thank you to Allen Gilbert and the ACLU-Vt. for carrying on this fight! 

14 thoughts on “Tasers save money? UPDATED

  1. And those collateral costs are bound to increase as untreated mental illness seems destined to inevitably rise in the aftermath of war and draconian cuts to social services.

    Cost savings by using tasers???   What utterly immoral nonsense.

    They might as well say that shooting violators dead saves money, not only by reducing the risk to arresting officers but also by making it unnecessary to feed and house a prisoner!

  2. and this in the midst of ever-higher taxes which hurt the budgets of the middle class as well as the poorest Vemonters plus Shumlin & legislature-supported solemn vow to never raise taxes on the Shumlin protectorate, thise like himself, the wealthiest 1%. Or make changes to our code to make it more in line w/the other states they threaten to move to if VT dares dig into there off-shore Swiis & Caymen bank accounts.

    VT reportedly loses billions in revenue yearly to these elite classist crybabies.  

  3. While Vermont and numerous states and municipalities payout for the damages done, Tasers Int. Inc. is expected to continue to payout for investors.

    One analyst predicts a 30% growth rate that will top the 25% rate of the last five years. And it is liable to continue.


  4. Yes, absolutely, Tasers do save money – in the budgets of the police.  Who cares how much it costs everyone else???

  5. Carefully calibrated Tasers can be  useful law enforcement tools for officers well-trained in their use and respectful of their lethal potential.  Unfortunately, the weapons are themselves unreliably calibrated and the officers carrying them, unschooled with regard to the many concerns associated with their use (heart issues, epilepsy, etc.)

    For this reason, and because too frequently this new weapon has been deployed on the very young and the vulnerable or resulted in injury or death, we need legislation that places a high bar of training on officers

    permitted to carry the weapon; and establishes strict and very limited guidelines for when its use is acceptable.  Tasers should not become the fall-back means for managing the mentally ill and unruly children.

    A protocol for documenting incidents of taser use in careful detail, including exact calibrations, must be established and rigorously studied for the information it can provide about both officer conduct and the impact on the detainee exposed to taser “management.”

    This is relatively new and uncharted territory and law enforcement’s obligation to human rights requires that we apply to this new technology, the greatest possible scrutiny and regulation.

    Thank you for your consideration.

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