Churchill Wants Taser Policy Kept Secret

By Bowling, Brian | Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, June 13, 2009 | Go to article overview

Churchill Wants Taser Policy Kept Secret


Bowling, Brian, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


Churchill wants an Allegheny County judge to overturn a state agency's decision that the borough's Taser policy is a public record.

Tracey McCants Lewis, a Duquesne University law professor, said the university's Center for the Bill of Rights requested a copy of the policy as part of its investigation into an incident in which Churchill police used a Taser on a juvenile.

"We'd like to look into the policy to see if use of the Taser was appropriate," she said.

Lewis said the NAACP referred the case to the center.

Churchill denied the center's Right-to-Know request on the grounds that letting the public see the policy would endanger its police officers and the public by allowing criminals to figure out how to "resist, defend and deflect the device." The state Office of Open Records ruled that the borough failed to prove its claim.

If the court doesn't overrule the agency, the borough wants the judge to hold a hearing so it can present additional testimony, the appeal states.

Lewis said the borough hasn't outlined a good argument for how releasing the Taser policy would endanger anyone.

"We just don't see how that's possible," she said.

State police spokesman Jack Lewis said the use of Tasers by state troopers is covered under the agency's "use of force" policy, which is public record. …

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