Cincy police chief on Tasers and violent crime

Aug 29, 2012

Credit Ann Thompson

Cincinnati's police chief reports the department's new Taser policy should be released in a couple of weeks. 

But James Craig said there's no discussion about of not using them.

“You discontinue use of the Taser, what’s the alternative?” Craig said.  “We don’t want officers hurt, they need to overcome resistance of an aggressive suspect, so that means side handle batons or straight sticks and again they create and cause more injury to suspects.”

An article in an American Heart Association publication this spring presented the first ever scientific, peer-reviewed evidence that the devices can cause cardiac arrest and death.  The key point of the study involved an elevated heart rate and the Taser barbs hitting a suspect in close proximity to the heart. 

Chief Craig said that article alone was not responsible for the upcoming changes to the department's policy.  

Meanwhile, Craig has been speaking with community groups and religious leaders as part of his effort to reduce violence in the city.  He's now expanding that outreach effort to include meetings with offenders about to be released from prison. 

Craig talked about his message to a group of 40 inmates at the Warren Correctional Institution in Lebanon.

“We want you to be successful, we want to support you,” Craig said.  “But if you decide to go out and engage in criminal activity, if you decide to go out and engage in acts of revenge, we will find you, we’ll arrest you and prosecute you.  So the question is, do you want to end up back here?  And if you feel you’re going to end up back here, just stay.  Don’t even leave.  I mean it’s just that simple.”

Craig said nearly all those involved in the meeting indicated they didn't want to return to prison. 

He said through mid-August violent crime in the city is down seven percent and there have been 11 fewer homicides when compared to last year.

“August is typically a busy month,” Craig said.  “We’ve had some activity, but still crime is reduced.”

Craig also said the department continues to make preparations for the first police recruit class in several years.  But right now there's still not a target date for that training to begin. 

Meanwhile, in about a week the department will be down to one assistant police chief.  Craig said he hopes to have a new hire in place by the end of the month and is getting ready to advertise for a third position.

Chief Craig met with reporters Wednesday at District One headquarters.