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For Immediate Release

Media Contact:
Raquel Guillory, 410-576-6357
rguillory@oag.state.md.us

Attorney General Gansler Receives Final Report from Task Force on Electronic Weapons

BALTIMORE, MD ( December 17, 2009) - Members of the Attorney General’s Task Force on Electronic Weapons today presented to Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler their final report. The final report is the culmination of public hearings, numerous meetings and many hours sorting through testimony, and scientific data and research. The report includes 60 recommendations and seven proposed legislative agenda items.

Created by Attorney General Gansler in October 2008, the Task Force on Electronic Weapons was chaired by Michael Higginbotham and vice-chaired by Byron Warnken, professors of law at the University of Baltimore School of Law. The Task Force was given a broad charge: to examine best practices for the use of electronic control weapons within the State of Maryland. Members of the Task Force compiled the report to document the information gathered over the last year and to make recommendations to Maryland elected officials and law enforcement personnel.

“Public confidence in the justice system cannot be maintained without making certain that safety and fairness are pillars of the system,” said Attorney General Gansler. “In order to preserve safety, law enforcement personnel must have effective tools to do their jobs. In order to preserve fairness, those tools must not be used in an arbitrary or unreasonable way. It is my hope that the recommendations offered in the report will be carefully considered by the members of the General Assembly, and State and local law enforcement.”

Over 14,200 law enforcement agencies in over 40 countries deploy electronic control weapons (ECWs). A survey by the Task Force of Maryland law enforcement agencies found that the use of ECWs is similarly widespread in Maryland. Of the 32 agencies that responded to the survey, 24 use ECWs. Clearly, the use of ECWs is growing and to address the many other issues concerning ECW use, the report also includes recommendations on:

  • implementing an ECW program;
  • training;
  • use-of-force;
  • medical care;
  • reporting and investigation of ECW incidents; and,
  • monitoring and data collection.

“There are some who think that electronic weapons are more dangerous than they actually are,” said Professor Michael Higginbotham, Chair of the Task Force. “There are others who think that electronic weapons are less dangerous than they actually are. The report from the Task Force adds a dose of reality to the many misperceptions that exist surrounding the use of electronic weapons. I encourage all interested persons to carefully read and consider the report for I believe that broad adoption of the full recommendations of this Task Force will save lives, reduce injuries, and improve community-police relations.”

“The Report from the Task Force is an incredible accomplishment,” said Professor Byron L. Warnken, Vice-Chair of the Task Force. “Imagine having 15 participants in an intensive one year study on any issue and then having all 15 members reach unanimous conclusion. It is incredible and a tribute to this hard-working group that we reached a unanimous 15-person consensus among the law enforcement community, the medical community, the attorney community, the academic community, the NAACP, and the ACLU. We can all be proud of this effort, both in the abstract and in compromising.”

A copy of the report can be found on the Attorney General’s website at http://www.oag.state.md.us/Reports/ECWReport.pdf

Members of the Attorney General’s Task Force on Electronic Weapons

  • Michael Higginbotham, Chair, Professor of Law at the University of Baltimore;
  • Byron Warnken, Vice-Chair, Associate Professor of Law at the University of Baltimore;
  • Donald W. Alves, M.D., M.S., FACEP, Attending Faculty, Emergency Medicine, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine; Medical Director, Maryland State Police;
  • Cindy Boersma, Legislative Director, ACLU of Maryland;
  • Carol A. Crawford, First Assistant State’s Attorney, Office of the State’s Attorney for Montgomery County, Maryland;
  • Cary J. Hansel, III, Attorney, Joseph, Greenwald & Laake, P.A.;
  • Scott M. Hammack, Attorney, O’Melveny & Myers LLP;
  • Christy E. Lopez, Attorney, Independent Assessment & Monitoring, LLP;
  • James Johnson, Chief of Police, Baltimore County Police Department;
  • George K. McKinney, United States Marshal (Retired), Baltimore, Maryland;
  • Ken Meekins, Chief of Police, Town of Hampstead Police Department;
  • Carl R. Pelton, B.S., NREMT-P, UMBC Graduate Student, Emergency Health Services; Consulting Paramedic and Law Enforcement;
  • Vernon H. Ricks Jr., State Chair on Law Enforcement, NAACP of Maryland; and
  • Mark Warren, Major, Baltimore County Police Department.
   

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