It might seem like a nonstarter to think that cops should not send hundreds—if not thousands—of volts of electricity through the fragile bodies of still-growing children. But for one state lawmaker in Ohio, police officers using tasers on kids is apparently totally fine.
Responding to a recent incident this past August, in which Cincinnati police officer Kevin Brown used his taser to subdue an 11-year-old girl suspected of shoplifting from a local grocery store, state Rep. John Becker wrote in a recent newsletter (emphasis his):
Let’s say I had an 11-year-old daughter who: 1) Was shoplifting; 2) Refused to stop when ordered by law enforcement; 3) Got tased as a result. My response would be to march the kid back into the store to pay for the pilfered items and apologize to the management. Next, the kid will apologize to the security guard for failing to comply and forcing him to use his taser. And then I’ll deal with the kid after we get home.
“Look Becker, wouldn’t it bother you that your 11-year-old daughter got tased? It certainly would. I’d be ashamed and embarrassed that she did something stupid enough to get herself tased.
Every time I hear shouts of, “Justice! We want justice!,” I want to shout back, “Parenting! We want parenting!”
Despite the immediate uproar over the officer’s use of a Taser on a child—Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley responded by saying simply that “Tasing an 11-year old who posed no danger to the police is wrong”—Becker, a Republican who represents a suburb of Cincinnati, went all-in on his claim that some grade schoolers simply deserve to have tasers turned on them.
In an email exchange with The Appeal’s Melissa Gira Grant published on Friday, Becker wrote that tasing “obviously depends on the age of the ‘child’ and the circumstances involved,” and that in the case of the 11-year-old accused shoplifter, “She was simply tased for resisting arrest.”
“It could be an indication of a parenting problem,” he continued. “If I were to do research, I would expect to find that kids that come from two parent in-tact [sic] supportive families are less likely to get in trouble with the authorities than kids that came from tougher environments.”
Incredibly, current Ohio state law allows police to tase children as young as seven. Speaking with WLWT, Cincinnati Vice Mayor Chris Smitherman said that he’s “introduced legislation previously on raising the tasing age from 7 to 12 and I’m hoping council will revisit this now raising the age for tasing.”
Or—just a thought—we could just not allow cops to use Tasers on children at all.