Metro police have purchased just over 1,000 Taser cameras and will begin distributing the recording devices to police on the beat in two weeks. These cameras will capture grainy footage of every electronic zap, though the fate of that footage may be up to the Legislature.
As Metro equips its troops with Taser cameras, Assembly Bill 273 is working its way through the Legislature. The bill, if approved as written, would require a camera on every law enforcement Taser in Nevada. It would also make any video captured a public record, “open to public inspection during regular business hours.”
Metro is not a fan of this idea. The department considers Taser videos evidence and will release footage only in the course of a trial or as the department sees fit.
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But wait, there’s more about the bill that Metro doesn’t like — AB273 would limit the circumstances in which police can use Tasers. Metro officers are currently allowed to use the electronic control devices during “custodial or arrest situations.” In other words, when officers are attempting to arrest someone who’s not cooperating, when they are trying to catch someone to arrest him, or in any self-defense situation. The phrase “compliance tool” tends to rub cops the wrong way, but that’s how Tasers are routinely used. The bill aims to put an end to that.
The legislation would allow police to use Tasers only on a person who committed a felony that involved the infliction or threat of bodily harm, or on someone who the officer believes poses a threat of bodily harm to himself or another person. The bill would make Tasers acceptable “only as an alternative to deadly force.”