The taser manufacturers are asking that police stop aiming high on suspects.
The company that makes Tasers has asked law enforcement officers across the country to avoid hitting people in the chest, and several North Carolina agencies said they plan to heed the warning.
A bulletin from TASER International, based in Arizona, asks officers to avoid the face, neck and chest and instead aim for the stomach or below.
Company officials said they are concerned that attorneys will file an “excessive use of force claim against the law enforcement agency and officer and try to allege that the Taser played a role in the (death),” especially when someone goes into cardiac arrest.
“By simply lowering the preferred target zone by a few inches to lower center mass, the goal achieving Neuro Muscular Incapacitation can be achieved more effectively while also improving risk management,” the memo states.
“The recommendations they’re giving us today seem reasonable,” Raleigh Police Chief Harry Dolan said.
Leaders of local agencies, like Raleigh police and the North Carolina Highway Patrol, said they will incorporate the new policy in their training. However, officers’ safety comes first and hitting the chest is allowed if necessary, leaders said.
“We’ve adjusted our training, we’re in the process of doing that now, and the next classes that come through our training, we’ll teach them to use the preferred areas,” state Highway Patrol spokesman Capt. Everett Clendenin said.
Highway patrol leaders said they have 600 Tasers. They will alert troopers about the new guideline by e-mail and in future training sessions.