Chief Hurtt defends HPD's Tasers

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Chief Hurtt is trying to do Taser damage control, so to speak, as there are now calls from several lawmakers to limit their use (via the Chronicle):

“My legislative intent is to come up with a real policy that will protect police and citizens,” Coleman said. “Clearly, there’s a disproportionate use of Tasers not only in the city of Houston but in the country in general.”

Coleman maintained that current policies on Tasers in Houston and other places are too loose, allowing use of the devices in particular against mentally ill people when stunning is not justified.

White called for a study after the city received repeated complaints that Tasers are used disproportionately on blacks.

The call was prompted in part by the Nov. 14 use of a Taser on Houston Texans lineman Fred Weary after police said he “became verbally combative and extremely argumentative” during a traffic stop.

Weary, 29, denied any wrongdoing and a judge later dismissed charges of resisting arrest. Hurtt defended his department’s Taser-use policy.

Chief Hurtt is not taking this lying down:

If Coleman files a bill that would ban Taser use, Hurtt said he will fight it “by going up and making my position known at the state level.”

Unless the hearings happen on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday. Is the chief back from Phoenix on Mondays? Just to be safe, Rep. Coleman is advised to hold hearings midweek.

Hurtt said he plans to commission a study of the department’s use of Tasers since it began in December 2004 “as soon as possible.”

The department is trying to identify researchers at universities who have studied Taser use.

“We want to make sure that we have people with the appropriate expertise,” Hurtt said.

We know someone who is an expert on almost everything: Bob Stein! He’d be perfect for the chief’s Taser study.

One last point: about a year and a half ago, there was discussion of a federal Taser study in which Houston was going to participate. Does anyone recall hearing anything further on that study?


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Anne Linehan is a co-founder of blogHOUSTON.