Letter To President Creighton

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Letter to President Creighton Opposing the Use of Tasers on the MHC Campus

Dear President Creighton,

The American Civil Liberties Union of Mount Holyoke College has been working this semester to educate students and promote a dialogue on campus concerning the dangers of Public Safety's proposal to adopt tasers.

We oppose this proposal on the basis of two significant factors: taser guns are unnecessary on this campus, and they have proved to be unsafe in many situations.

Public Safety claims that they are feeling increasingly endangered on campus; however, it can be seen through the Department of Public Safety's July 1, 2006 document “Safe and Sound,” that an increase in some campus crimes one year does not indicate that there will be an increase of crime in subsequent years. Proponents of tasers on our campus say that we must either arm campus safety officers with tasers to protect the community or leave our campus and our officers vulnerable. Such an argument is a false dichotomy. Public Safety officers have been able to successfully and safely handle the incidences on campus without the use of tasers in the past, and we trust that they are trained well enough to take care of any similar confrontations in the future with the tools that are currently at their disposal.

Furthermore, we believe that tasers are unsafe. Between 1999 and 2005, at least 148 people in the United States and Canada have died after being tased (according to the ACLU of Northern California). People who are taking drugs including prescription medication, have pre-existing heart conditions, are under the influence of alcohol, or are of smaller stature are particularly at risk of being injured or killed from tasers. In all situations in which a taser might be used, Public Safety officers have no way of knowing whether or not the individual has any predisposition that might put the person at greater risk of a lethal shock. In addition, because tasers are not seen as lethal as guns, they are often viewed as a middle ground option for restraining individuals, an erroneous assumption considering the numerous deaths and injuries associated with their usage.

Attached we have provided a petition with 803 signatures from students and other Mount Holyoke community members who encourage you to vote no on Public Safety's proposal. After speaking with many of these individuals, we can conclude that there is an overwhelming concern among the community over this proposal. We hope you will make this conclusion, as well, and reject the proposal to arm Public Safety with taser guns.

Please feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns. We have citations and further information regarding the studies of taser safety that we would be pleased to share with you.

Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,

The American Civil Liberties Union of Mount Holyoke College

 

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