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Former Police Chief: Tasers Are Good, but Misused, Tool

The cops who repeatedly shocked Boaz Albert were unprofessional, says former Jerusalem police chief Aryeh Amit.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 8/20/2013, 5:46 AM

Aryeh Amit
Aryeh Amit
Flash 90

Former Jerusalem police chief Aryeh Amit said on Monday that tasers are an excellent tool meant to replace lethal weapons - but are being placed in irresponsible, untrained hands.

Amit spoke to Arutz Sheva a day after Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino ordered police across the country to stop using tasers. 

Danino’s announcement followed public outrage after a video was released showing officers repeatedly giving electric shocks to Boaz Albert, a father-of-six from Samaria (Shomron) who was not resisting arrest.

"The taser is an important tool which replaces a tool designed to kill," said Amit. “The problem is in the skill of the person using it, his familiarity with procedures and his confidence to ensure that the device is not used because of his concern over the use of force.”

Asked about the specific arrest of Boaz Albert, Amit told Arutz Sheva that while it is difficult to express an opinion when one is not familiar with the entire story, "when you look at the part of the video where the detainee is lying on the floor, where he can cause no harm, and four policemen are standing above him with one shocking him, that looks about as unprofessional as it can get.”

According to Amit, an officer who uses force in such a way that was seen in the video "is in my opinion unprofessional. It looks to me as though the cops panicked and operated hysterically.”

In the past, Amit told Arutz Sheva, tasers were only issued to commanders. Asked if he believes that this procedure should be re-implemented, he responded that he does not outright rule out this possibility, but stressed “this is an important tool which should not be removed from service. We just need to ensure that it will only be used when really needed. The solution is to make sure the device is in the hands of a professional police officer and not in the hands of a coward.”

Responding to the criticism by Meretz chairwoman MK Zehava Galon as well as others about the use of tasers, Amit sarcastically said, "Zehava Galon is a well-known Yassam commander ... You count her opinion regarding operational decisions of the police? Every time someone breathes she objects.”

Galon said on Sunday, “It’s impossible not to be nauseated when seeing the Yassam officers using the teaser over and over against the settler Boaz Albert, who is on the floor groaning in pain.”

“There’s no justification on earth for using this cruel weapon against a person who did not use violence and was not a threat… Tasers are a weapon that have proved dangerous,” she warned.

Amit dismissed the criticism, saying the politicians who voiced it were simply jumping on the bandwagon. The right attitude, he stressed, is to treat tasers as a device used by a dentist would be treated: if it falls into the hands an inexperienced and unskilled person it can cause great damage, but when in the right hands it is effective and necessary.