Electric tasers will enforce the law in closed environments like the Buenos Aires City Subte trains starting in March, Buenos Aires City Mayor Horacio Rodríguez Larreta announced Tuesday. Two weeks ago, Security Minister Patricia Bullrich said her department would purchase 300 taser guns.
The Security Ministry of the City of Buenos Aires had the final say on whether or not to buy the tasers, each costing about US$3000, La Nación reports. The city’s police force is already learning how and when to use these weapons in special training classes.
According to the Ministry, tasers will only be used to break up violent incidents or respond to criminal activity in closed environments like airports or the underground Subte system.
“At first, they will be used in airports and trains. The idea is to use them in crowded areas where you ultimately must resort to lethal weapons,” officials from the Security Ministry told Clarín. If taser use goes well, they may be used in other public spaces “from time to time.”
Tasers immobilize victims by sending electricity through the central nervous system. A typical taser shot triggers 19 painful muscle contractions over a five-second span. Mobility is restored soon after tasers are fired.
"For a few minutes, the person who receives the shot loses the ability to respond. It is much safer to use a Taser in a place where there are many people than a lethal weapon, which can generate side effects,” Bullrich explained.
Critics like Deputy Ombudsman Gabriel Fuks says taser implementation is unnecessary. "It's nonsense to buy taser guns. The Security Ministry validates police practices that violate international standards and agreements, like intimidation shots or the use of lethal force against a fleeing suspect,” he said.
Likewise, Robert Pianelli, the General Secretary of the Association of Subte workers described the measure as "delirious” and said it could cause “chaos.” Workers are considering protests against the use of these tasers, Pianelli continued.
Taser use was made legal by a Supreme Court of Justice ruling in 2016. Bullrich stands by taser use as a humane and effective law enforcement strategy.
"Criticism is an Argentine game, it is like a sport. The tasers are designed to be used in situations of turmoil. The debate on whether to use them or not is already won, as taser use was declared constitutional,” Bullrich said.
Facial recognition technology might also be used in the subway beginning in March. According to Deputy Mayor Diego Santilli, the camera technology could quickly identify harassers or people with criminal records.