the tasers of ypsilanti

It’s been mentioned here on the site that Ypsi cops, if they’re not already, will soon be carrying tasers. I recently heard that our Chief of Police has made an offer to demonstrate these tasers to interested community groups. If there’s enough interest, I was thinking of asking for a demo for the local blog readers. If anyone is interested, let me know and I’ll pursue it. I personally think that it would be useful not just to know what they look like, how they’re used, and what affect they have on people, but under what circumstances our police officers have been trained to use them… Anyway, let me know if you’re interested. Ideally we’d have a half dozen or so people prepared to ask questions and we’d have someone volunteer to shoot video and post it to YouTube.

I should add that I’m not necessarily anti-taser. I’m admittedly not up on all the facts, but it seems to me that a taser, properly used, would do a lot less damage to a person than say a metal baton to the head. (From what I understand, when Pittsfield Township cops got tasers 11 months ago, they stopped carrying metal batons. Furthermore, they’ve only reported using the tasers on two occasions in that time.) With all that said, however, I still find the thought of police officers accustomed to using such devices to be rather chilling, in a dystopian nightmare kind of a way. Yes, I suppose it’s better than being shot with a bullet, but is that what it’s come to? Are we OK with anything short of murder? One wonders where all of this is heading. Pain guns perhaps?

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  1. Posted September 26, 2007 at 11:31 pm | Permalink

    You should absolutely pursue setting up some kind of demonstration. Would they going to taser a willing participant? That would be just – amazing…in a fucked up postmodern sorta way.

    Need a photographer there? – hit me up!

  2. brian r
    Posted September 27, 2007 at 12:13 am | Permalink

    The YPD will only be carrying tasers if City Council allows it. The proposal has yet to be brought before City Council for discussion and a vote.

  3. Bonnie
    Posted September 27, 2007 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

    The YPD has already demonstrated the tasers and held an informational session for community groups on the west side of town; they’ll be having another for the east side on the 10th, I believe. I imagine they’d happy to have more people there, interested in learning.

    I rather think that when tasers are properly used, they not only are better than being bludgeoned, they’re far better than having the cop’s only long- and medium-distance compliance tactic be a gun (or flying ninja kicks, but I don’t think many cops are up to that with all the extra crap they have to wear- the vests, the batman-style utility belts, that kinda thing).

  4. Katy
    Posted September 27, 2007 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

    Count me among the interested in seeing a demonstration. Like you, I’m not so sure how I feel about cops with tasers. I’d be very curious to hear more about situations in which they would anticipate using them.

  5. Kevin Dole 2
    Posted September 27, 2007 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

    Totally interested in a demo.

  6. Karen
    Posted September 27, 2007 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

    Wait, I thought the Ypsi police already had tasers. The Segway-mounted cop who got me for biking on the sidewalk that night sure did. Or are the ones in red uniforms from Pittsfield Township?

  7. MLT
    Posted September 28, 2007 at 10:46 am | Permalink

    The man on the Segway may have had a taser, but he wasn’t a cop. He’s a local vigilante. Legend is that he sleeps during the day and by night cruises around looking for panhandlers to put under citizens arrest.

    If there is another taser demo I’d like to be at it.

  8. Posted September 28, 2007 at 11:03 am | Permalink

    WOW! Who would have thunk that Steve Pierce would have been a man of local legend, I’m sure he’s thrilled!

    I’m down for the demo, I might even be willing to be the poor sap who gets shot. It kinda sounds like fun.

    Perhaps Steve will cart over his vigilante video equipment and tape it for us. YouTube & YpsiNews here we come!

  9. Posted September 28, 2007 at 1:49 pm | Permalink


    We already recorded a taser meeting back in June 2007 and it is up on

    Karen, I am sorry you misunderstood what I was saying, I was trying to warn you that there was this ridiculous $120 fine if the police nab you. I think the thing with how the city has handled bicycles and enforcement has been terrible.

    The complaint from the neighborhood was that folks are riding around IN THE STREET at night, in the neighborhood, not downtown, with no lights on their bikes checking car doors and stealing change bags and laptops from cars, snatching purses from pedestrians, and stealing stuff from garages.

    Somehow the city took that as they need to enforce the no bicycles rule on sidewalks in the downtown and then come up with a $120 fine. Oh sigh…

    I then pointed out to the chief, well if you are going to enforce the no bicycles on the sidewalk rule then the police should not be patrolling the downtown on bicycles and riding on the sidewalk. I was trying to point out the error in their enforcement. Response back from the police, they stopped downtown bicycle patrols downtown because bicycles can’t be on sidewalks including police bicycles. Big Sigh…

    Karen I am very sorry if you misunderstood what I was trying to say, I was trying to save you from getting a $120 ticket from a system that has gone horribly awry.

    Now the city is spending money on signs to warn bicyclist about the $120 fine. Bigger Sigh…

    Shouldn’t we instead have a discussion that perhaps the rule is a bad rule or maybe change the rule instead of spending money putting up more signs telling people they are not welcome in our downtown.

    Oh well, Karen, you and I are soon to be in the same box, City Council member John Gawlas, whose friend owns the local Segway dealership in Ann Arbor, has now apparently suggested to city staff that they look into banning Segway’s from Downtown sidewalks next.

    Let see, The City has a plan to encourage bicycles and other alternative energy vehicles, we want to be a cool city and encourage people to come to our downtown and be a walkable community so the response: lets ban all other forms of transportation except cars and then give cars $50 parking tickets when drivers don’t read the sign correctly. Sigh again…

    I encourage everyone to get involved in the Ypsilanti bicycling coalition and the local merchants association, D.A.Y. Working together we can come up with a reasonable plan where we can all share the road and the sidewalks and still be safe.

    In the mean time, look for new signs in our downtown.


    – Steve

    P.S. Karen, the red uniform you mentioned, the was my Stop City Income Tax t-shirt.

  10. egpenet
    Posted September 28, 2007 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

    WHAT city income tax!? (Oh, sigh!)

  11. Karen
    Posted September 28, 2007 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the info, Steve. Sorry for misunderstanding (I think I was a bit shaken by the possibility that you might use your taser on me!)

  12. Posted September 29, 2007 at 12:14 am | Permalink

    gosh i love honest & reasonable dialogue =-)

  13. mark
    Posted September 29, 2007 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

    Karen, are you sure it was a taser? I know that Steve’s been patroling the streets at night, but I hadn’t heard that he was armed. Could it have been a cell phone maybe?

  14. egpenet
    Posted September 29, 2007 at 8:05 pm | Permalink

    Hey, Steve! Is that a taser in your pocket, or were yah just glad to see Karen?”

  15. Robert
    Posted November 11, 2007 at 1:06 am | Permalink

    That UF jackass has now been going on morning shows and admitting he was out of line and that the security guards were not. He claims he had just gotten overly emotional.

  16. latetotheparty
    Posted December 29, 2007 at 10:06 am | Permalink

    At the time of the new rule, I read a news article that quoted a police officer (chief?). He said that the reason for the no-bicycles-on-sidewalks rule was that they needed a reason to stop and chat with people who they keep finding in those situations.

    Came about as a result of a small rash of general thefts and some individuals robbed at knife-or-other weapon-point involving criminals on bikes. The article might even be available on the Ypsi police site.

    They needed the ordinance enforced as a way to see who these people could be as they cruise around town looking for victims.

    Way to support the officers who are responding to your stated need, Steve.

    BTW, how did Karen end up thinking you were a taser-wielding officer, anyway? Interpreting the attitude I can understand, but the little homemade stunguns-from cameras are not large, do you have a holster for it that makes it look all official? (note, Tasers fire a wire, anything else is a stungun– and both are illegal in Michigan even if homemade (although a misdemeanor the first time you get caught, if your record is clean. Many states do this for a first offense of this nature). You can go get your Smith and Wesson or whatever though just fine. 3000-odd people in Washtenaw county (entire) had a CPL last I looked.

    And frankly if it is one of the made-from-a-camera things as mentioned in another post, all that thing is going to do is piss someone off. You’d find out quickly if your max speed was sufficient to escape or not (I’m guessing– not).

    At least you can’t shoot your TV by accident when practicing your quick-draw (with a stun gun anyway).

    Anyway. It bugs me how you keep turning any interaction into an anti-city theme.

  17. Scott K
    Posted January 20, 2008 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

    Hmmm…budget issues and the city spends $18,000 on tasers (after the $25,000 grant). Why not just get enough covered under the grant or just stick with the guns and billy clubs for the time being. My father was a police officer for 32 years and never had a taser….and yes probably would have fewer lawsuits…maybe.

    I just think it was not a good use of money, there is no urgent need for them, at a time when services should be cut. And what happens when police do get cut? Would those tasers sit around unused?

    We need more revenue if we’re going to spend more money.

  18. Paul Schreiber
    Posted January 20, 2008 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

    The TASERs are being bought with drug forfeiture funds and a grant, not money from the city’s general fund. The general fund is where the budget crisis is most acute.

    Paul Schreiber

  19. Scott K
    Posted January 20, 2008 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

    Fair enough. Thanks for the explanation.

  20. mark
    Posted January 20, 2008 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

    Thank you Scott, and Paul, for your comments. It makes me incredibly happy when I post something, questions are raised, and then people with further knowledge of the matter – like the Mayor in this case – take the time to share what they know. It’s great when everything works the way it’s supposed to.

  21. John on Forest
    Posted January 20, 2008 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

    I think it’s great to see the facts come out.

    I heard on the radio that one council person, Brian Robb, voted against procuring the tasers. I wonder what was his reasoning.

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