City Controller Annise Parker has released heraudit
on HPD's Taser usage.
The audit looked at 1,417 Taser deployments between December 2004 and June 30, 2007.
Among the findings: African-Americans are more likely to be tased than whites or Hispanics; female officers tase at the same rate as males; the hot spots to get tased are City Council districts D (Wanda Adams) and H (Adrian Garcia).
And then there was this, from various focus groups:
Participants were told preliminary statistical study showed that black officers tase less than white or Hispanic officers. The various groups were asked why they thought that is.
"African-American officers may diffuse the situation verbally" was the choice of three groups: officers of all races who had never tased; Hispanic officers, and officers of all races who had tased less than five times.
"African-American suspects have more respect for African-American officers, hence the [taser] is not required as often" was the choice of (surprise!) black officers.
"African-Americans do not think situations are out of control" was the pick of white and Asian officers who had never tased.
Then the question was put to a group of HPD officers who had used their Tasers more than five times, the real hot-shots when it comes to wielding the shock-gun. Their choice: "African-American officers may not have many violent suspects."
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to the mission of the Houston Press. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Houston’s stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
Yeah, those black officers. Always getting the easy collars.
Anyway, there's a lot to digest in the report. Check it out.
Slight Update: All the focus groups, by the way, agreed on one thing. Asked if any HPD policies on Tasers should be revised, all groups -- black, white, Hispanic, those who've never used a Taser, those who've used them like cocktail napkins -- came up with the same answer: "Reduce the amount of internal paperwork related to [Tasers]."
-- Richard Connelly