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Effort To Ban Taser Use Against Children Voted Down

Jan 4, 2005 | A Cincinnati city council member took extraordinary steps to try to get Cincinnati police to ban using taser on children.

But Cincinnati police won't have to change their policy on taser use especially against children after a council committee made that decision at an unusual hearing Tuesday afternoon.

Police policy says don't tase anyone under age seven or over age 70-years-old.

City council Chris Smitherman wants to prohibit tasing children between the ages of seven-years and 10-years-old.

In an effort to try to prove his point he had two of his four children testify before city council's Law and Public Safety committee.

"It is not right for police officers to be able to tase children because they might hurt the children," said Smitherman's son, Christopher.

"Police might even kill young children like me by tasing them," said Smitherman's eight-year-old son.

But a spokesperson for the Cincinnati Police department had a different stance on the issue.

"There have been no taser deployments against anyone under the age of 12," said Lt. Col. Rick Janke, of the Cincinnati police department.

"There was one 12-year-old who was armed with a knife, who was tasered and that situation was successfully resolved," said Janke.

"I wanted to tell you that I am very scared to get tased," said Malcolm Smitherman, Christopher's younger brother.

"I don't want my brothers or my friends, or children like me, to get tased," said the six-year-old.

"I would suggest to you that there's no evidence and no indication that Cincinnati Police abuse their power either when addressing using tasers on adults or younger age," said Janke.

Smitherman's wife also said she's worried about her children's safety.

"I have one child who has a heart murmur," said Pamela Smitherman. "If he were to be tased with 50,000 volts of electricity, I don't know what that would do for his quality of life or his life overall."

Assistant Chief Janke said the department used tasers 629 times last year in making nearly 38,000 arrests.

That cut down on injuries to officers and suspects.

"Good judgement, good training, good people, good police officers," said Janke. "That's who exercise these options. We don't have any evidence that these tasers are being used inappropriately."

The law committee voted 3-2 to reject Smitherman's plan.

David Pepper, John Cranley and Jim Tarbell voted no.

Smitherman and Laketa Cole voted for the plan.

Smitherman has also sent a letter to City Manager Valerie Lemmie, criticizing some recent comments she had made.

Last week, Lemmie said police continue to fully cooperate with a federal monitor overseeing two police reform agreements signed in 2002.

That contradicts monitor Saul Green who filed a motion in court asking a federal judge to find the police department in breach of the two agreements.

The judge has not ruled on the motion.

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