A bunch of people have e-mailed me asking that I post about the UCLA library tasering incident. A few have gone so far as to more or less demand that I post about it.
If I had special factual or legal knowledge related to the subject, I'd have been happy to blog about it, whether or not it involved UCLA. (See, for instance, my posts criticizing a UCLA dorm speech code, a UCLA administration Web site that I thought violated the Establishment Clause, and proposed UCLA general speech code.) Here, though, I lack any such special knowledge, nor do I have the time to acquire it, especially given that this is the sort of fact-dependent incident about which one needs to know a good deal to know even a little.
It's also the sort of blogging topic that risks consuming most of my spare time if I am indeed to venture serious opinions, given that I'd then be called on to respond to all the criticisms of my opinions, criticisms that may well be quite plausible given that my opinions are unlikely to be well-informed. (There is a video, but for obvious reasons it leaves many questions unanswered.) My tentative and highly unexpert thinking -- as opposed to a serious opinion -- is that at least some of the police officers' actions were likely unjustified, but what benefit is such tentative and highly unexpert thinking to my readers? Perhaps the outside investigation of the incident will reveal more, but for now I find I have very little to add to the inquiry.
As I do find things I think I might add to the discussion, I probably will post them, though they're likely to be quite tangential to the core "what happened here and what is to be done about it" questions that others are rightly focused on. For now, just so that there's something substantively helpful in the post, let me pass along the UCLA Police Department's Taser Policy, which (apparently unlike some other departments' policies) allows the use of tasers as "pain compliance techniques" in some situations. I can't speak in any helpful detail to what pain compliance techniques (as opposed to techniques aimed at more direct officer self-defense, rather than aimed at mere compliance) should be allowed: My tentative sense is that some are invariably allowed, and should be allowed, since even simply forcibly handcuffing a suspect usually relies on the threat of pain as a means of ensuring compliance, but that doesn't tell us whether tasering should be among such techniques, at least outside unusual cases. But I thought that at least passing along the policy might help produce informed opinions from readers who are more knowledgeable than I am about police enforcement matters.