Should police be banned from using tear gas? | The Tylt

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Should police be banned from using tear gas?
#BanTearGasNow
#BanTearGasNow
#PoliceNeedTearGas
#PoliceNeedTearGas

Clouds of tear gas shot by police at protesters has become a common feature of protests across the United States. While the military is banned from using it on the battlefield, law enforcement essentially have little oversight in terms of how and when they are able to use it domestically.

Police have repeatedly abused the wide latitude they have been given to deploy their chemical weapons. In one horrific incident, Philadelphia police trapped protesters into an area without exits, then repeatedly shot canisters of tear gas into the crowd. In far too many other incididents, law enforcement fired tear gas cannisters directly at people's heads, seriously injuring and maiming them. These weapons have been banned from war, they should also be banned from being used against American citizens. Is it okay that we treat our foreign enemies better than our own people?

Police argue they need their full arsenal of less-lethal weapons, including tear gas, because otherwise they would have to resort to lethal force. There are only so many tools and options police can use to escalate and disperse crowds. They argue that if they are not able to use less-lethal weapons, they will have to use their guns. In an especially direct example, the Berkeley police chief said "we can shoot people" when a councilmember asked the police chief about their options if they did not have tear gas. 

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Here's only one example of how law enforcement are using tear gas in Portland. While tear gas is considered "less-lethal" it does not mean that it is actually non-lethal, nor did it mean that it is benign. Tear gas is inherently indiscriminate—police cannot control where the clouds of chemical weapons drift after they release it into crowds. There is a high likelihood that bystanders will be affected or that the gas will seep into homes and contaminate living spaces. These protests are happening in American cities where people live and work. 

Worse yet, tear gas makes people more prone to getting pneumonia, catching the flu and other respiratory illnesses. This is a problem when we are living through an uncontrolled pandemic. Tear gas is actually woefully understudied for how widely it is deployed. However, a study of military recruits who were exposed to tear gas as part of basic training found those recruits were more likely to catching respiratory illnesses. 

Chemical weapons should not be used on people. 

#BanTearGasNow
#BanTearGasNow
#BanTearGasNow
#PoliceNeedTearGas

Police have few options when they are required to do crowd control and especially when they are required to disperse large angry crowds. Typically, these actions are governed by a continuum of force—a general guideline that dictates what kind of force and weapon can be used to address resisting subjects. In this practice, less lethal chemical weapons like tear gas

Here's how Berkeley police chief Andrew Greenwood made the case for the continued use of tear gas by police:

On June 9, during a council discussion on whether to block police from using tear gas, Greenwood was asked what tools officers would have if their lives were threatened and they didn’t have the gas at their disposal. “Firearms. We can shoot people,” Greenwood said. “If you are being attacked with lethal force, if we don’t have less-lethal that can drive it back, then we’re absent a tool. That’s my concern. I’m not trying to be overly dramatic and I apologize.”
#PoliceNeedTearGas

In a letter to the Seattle City Council, Seattle police chief Carmen Best made the argument that the police will not be able to effectively do their jobs without the use of tear gas. She argues banning tear gas would make a dangerous situation worse.

Some have asked why officers are not arresting those engaging in criminal behavior, as officers do every day, and as they have in recent protests. If it is safe to do so, and even when it places their lives in danger, our officers always directly address criminal behavior. They do this, however, when they know they have the tools shown to allow the safe use of their policing powers. This Council ordinance denies them access to these tools that have been an essential part of their court-approved tactics.

We have clear, court-mandated procedures for arresting individuals, grounded in the principles of deescalation. SPD’s de-escalation principles are premised on the expectation, consistent with policy and best practices, that officers have the full array of approved tools. In large crowds, there is no safe way for officers to effect arrests when their colleagues do not have the tools necessary to protect them.
As City Council’s legislation goes into effect, it will create even more dangerous circumstances for our officers to intervene using what they have left – riot shields and riot batons.
VOTE NOW
Politics
Should police be banned from using tear gas?
#BanTearGasNow
#BanTearGasNow
#PoliceNeedTearGas
#PoliceNeedTearGas