Sometimes, all it takes is a little push for a mischief maker or miscreant to get the point. That's true for children, and it's true for petty criminals as well.
Earlier this week, a sheriff's deputy was dispatched to assist with what was described in the report as an "alcohol overdose." The subject had consumed half a bottle of vodka - which could mean a fifth, a liter or 1.75-liter bottle - and was passed out on the floor of the house. The deputy and EMTs worked on the man, who was initially unresponsive, but a sternum rub caused him to suddenly jump to his feet and run to the door.
The incident might have ended differently had the man not refused an order to stop; then he clenched his fists and taken what witnesses deemed to be a "fighting stance." When that happened, as it often does with law enforcement officers are present, two deputies struck the guy with Tasers. The second shock put the suspect on the floor. After EMTs checked the stunned fellow, they turned him over to deputies. While on his way to jail, the guy - who had probably been sobered up by the Taser hits - apologized for his behavior, and said the Taser hit was "no joke."
Some will argue fleeing from cops or taking an aggressive stance with them doesn't merit the use of a Taser, unless the suspect is packing a deadly weapon. They might add knives and hammers aren't all that deadly unless the suspect is in very close proximity to the officer. Others would argue that being hit with a Taser is far preferable than being shot in the back with a gun - the kind that carries bullets. The man in this case, who was booked for assault upon an officer, would probably agree with the latter.
But that's not the point here. The point is that the suspect, having gotten a shock from the Taser, admitted it was no laughing matter. And he is alive to tell the tale.
Is it possible some troublemakers could adopt a better attitude once they get a taste of what this device has to offer? Yes, just as some children would prefer not to get a second paddling after learning an offense would prompt it - or for those who oppose corporal punishment, a lengthy stint in the corner might not bear repeating. Sometimes it takes a series of punitive actions to get the message across. Other times, though, once is quite enough.
No one can say whether the man in this case got the message in a manner that would prevent him from engaging in the behavior that led to it. But he did apologize for acting aggressively, which is a good sign. The message was probably reinforced by some time behind bars.
Punishment should never be about retribution, but it should always be about reform. Even those who would just as soon see law enforcement agencies defunded have to admit that if a little pain puts a would-be criminal on a better path, it might be a necessary option in the arsenal.