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."
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
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.