Today, researchers in Connecticut released a statewide report, the first of its kind in the country, revealing how police in the state use Tasers. The report was mandated in 2014, when the General Assembly, with strong urging from the American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut, passed the first law in the nation requiring all police departments in the state to disclose how they use Tasers.

This morning’s landmark report showed that in 2015, Connecticut police disproportionately used and threatened to use Tasers against minorities, and often used or threatened to use Tasers against people who were experiencing mental health crises or who were under the influence of drugs or alcohol. In addition, police departments failed to provide complete information regarding Taser incidents, including in the two cases in which someone died after being tased by police.

The following is a statement from David McGuire, Legislative and Policy Director & Interim Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut, who advocated for the police Taser law:

“Unfortunately, this report makes it clear that Connecticut has work to do to make sure that police use Tasers fairly, justly, and wisely. When someone is vulnerable and in crisis, police should be there to help, not hurt. Public safety, not subconscious or conscious biases, should determine whether and when police draw their Tasers.

As the first state to require police Taser reporting, Connecticut has sent a message that police here can’t use powerful electronic shock weapons in the shadows. Now, it’s time to ask some tough questions about why police are disproportionately pointing Tasers at minorities and people in crisis, and how our state can prevent more tragedies and misuse.

Police have to earn public trust, and earning public trust requires transparency, accountability, and thorough training and regulations to keep people safe. We hope that the information gained by this report will empower the General Assembly to strengthen Connecticut law to improve transparency and regulations, require police to use Taser cameras, and provide better training for police Taser use.”

As a result of this latest report, the American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut has sent Freedom of Information requests seeking full Taser use of force reports from all police departments that reported Taser incidents in 2015. Since 2005, 18 people have died after being tased by police in Connecticut, and 12 were Black or Hispanic.

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