Yet another advertisement designed to look like an impartial magazine article
This month’s issue of The Law Enforcement Trainer (volume 20 / Number 3) has just arrived at my door step. The group that publishes the magazine, ASLET (American Society of Law Enforcement Trainers) has come under fire recently from allegations of financial improprieties and a myriad of other questioned activities and events. For the record, I joined the group in the late 1980’s.

This month’s issue has a very puffy piece written by Tasers’ Vice President of Communications, Steve Tuttle. I at first was mystified by the inclusion of such an article until I remembered a story told me by a former, then current, then former and again now current executive board member of ASLET. He said that the group is all about money the acquisition of it. Again for the record, I resigned my membership last year because of this prevailing attitude from the leaders of the society. As the article unfolds, it details in Steve’s first-person account of how his company (yes, his company, he made a small fortune at the IPO), from the ALSET Conference in 1999, (I was there for that one) up to the present.

In this “Taser good, Media bad” glorified Press release, Tuttle mentions the SEC investigation, the Arizona Republic Newspaper, Amnesty International, ACLU all in the same breath as the new Taser marketing phrase; death by “Excited Delirium”. In the same paragraph, he hints at what may be a future defense strategy for pending wrongful death lawsuits by mentioning another key marketing phrase; “don’t forget that electricity is instantly dissipated as heat and does not linger in the body”. For those of you familiar with the writings and quotes of Taser’s Medical Director Robert Stratbucker, may remember when he coined the very same phrase several years ago during the period of the Daniel Pelosi murder trial in New York.

As the article continues, it details Taser’s extensive efforts to back-load scientific studies (70 studies, Tuttle says) to justify its position that Taser’s are safe(r) then Tylenol. Further, he states that “any use of force carries an inherent risk of danger” which flies in the face of every person who heard Rick Smith, Tom Smith and Steve Tuttle say the their product is “NON-LETHAL”. This is revisionist history in the making. This is a deliberate attempt to whitewash years of advertising and marketing of past years. As you recall, I mentioned that I was at the 1999 ASLET Convention, I clearly recall the phrase “extended exposure causes no long term health effects and the Taser is completely safe” being used several times by Taser executives.

As to why this puff-piece should appear in what should be a well respected periodical? To find the answer all I had to do was leaf through until page 76. There I see that Steve and Taser are listed as Premier Corporate Sponsors of the group and its magazine. It also shows that Steve joined on 02/20/2003.

Please don’t take my criticisms wrong, I think that there is a place in civilian Law Enforcement and military operations for just such a device. What I do have a problem with is its founders, and their attitudes towards those injured or killed. As per Steve’s article, he states that “despite numerous lawsuits involving wrongful death, a class action shareholder lawsuit in light of an ongoing SEC informal inquiry and cases involving officers’ injuries during training, it’s nice to know that we at TASER International haven’t lost a case yet and we don’t settle.” He continues with “its worth mentioning that TASER International does not issue cross complaints against law enforcement agencies of officers.” Tuttle makes the claim that “there were virtually no lawsuits until the vilifying media started their negative, unsupported onslaught.”

Now I wonder what the story is with agencies suing Taser and why Steve had to mention it. I have heard a rumor among class action attorneys that one police agency has a rock solid case against Taser for strong-arming them when the agency claimed they were not told prior to purchase that there were questions over the level of safety with Tasers. Taser supposedly is side-stepping reimbursement claiming that the factory authorized Taser LE Distributor for the assigned sales territory is responsible. I have also heard on the grapevine that a few former LE Distributors are collectively suing for wrongful termination of their distributor agreements and those strictly awarding multi-state sales territories to those distributors who pony-up larger end-of-years stocking orders in order to acquire rights to smaller distributor’s sales territories. Case in point is the Florida / Georgia territory now handled by one distributor exclusively.

It has been well documented over the years that Taser controlled every aspect of a distributor’s activities. From restricting agency sales pricing to making agencies into “house-accounts”, even after a distributor did the sales presentations. One such distributor actually added one Taser free for every 10 that a purchasing agency bought. That distributor was terminated very quickly for violating their distributor agreement. Another was let go because he made and sold batteries and chargers while selling the entire Taser product lineup.

I have thought for a long time now that such activities smacked of Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organization (RICO) activities. With the wealth of copses, both figuratively and literally lying by the roadside of Taser’s travels, I’m sure a Grand Jury someplace will hear a RICO case soon.