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on Thursday, April 3rd, 2008 at 3:58 pm by Radley Balko
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I remember when our high school campus liaison officer sent a message by just being there if we needed him. I can’t ever recall him ever being needed to stop and or punish a kid from pulling a stupid prank.
Ah, the good old days before the drug war and 9/11 . . .
Possession of a weapon? There’s at least 15 things in a typical middle-schooler’s book bag that could be used to kill, maim, or inflict pain on a person. Should every student be charged with “possession of a weapon”?
This article is a lot more measured than the article Drudge is linking to: “Police say the camera, modified according to instructions available on the Internet, had been converted into an improvised electronic demobilizing device similar to a Taser.”
Is it really similar to a taser? I’d say it’s more like one of those handshake shock pranks.
Apparently, Sgt. Jeremiah Dunn of the Clinton Police Department must really just want to stress that kids shouldn’t respect the police, because that’s exactly what this sort of asinine response will do.
Once the kid is arrested and (disproportionately) charged, only two things can happen:
1) he’s convicted and thinks the police are idiots and holds a grudge, or
2) he’s acquitted or charges are dropped and he can prove the police are idiots and holds a grudge.
So when the police are actually working to improve the community, this kid will be useless at encouraging/helping them.
But, hey, it’s worth it to prove that a disposable camera isn’t a toy, right?
The charges are overkill, but a suspension would probably be in order. A camera’s flash capacitor does not cause amusing tingling sensations like a 9V on the tongue. It hurts, and it causes brief muscle jerks which can lead a person to hurt himself more. It can even burn skin, albeit only to a sunburn level in my experience. Doing this to another student is not OK behavior.
I was zapped by such things as a joke a few times by friends, which might seem to undermine my point, but remember that you can find teenagers playing with Tazers on YouTube.
I played with the circuit that recharges a flash capacitor in an engineering class in college. I’d charge the cap, remove it and then discharge it to admire the spark. I blew some nice little pits into metal with it. Wouldn’t want it discharged on any part the body. Ouch.
Still, just normal teenage stupidity and criminal charge are overkill. They could have just taken it away and given him detention.
I guess it’s alright to Taser folks who get unrurely when your the law, but a mild shock from a camera. I wonder what they would do these days if you talked your friend into sticking his/her tongue on the end of a 9-volt battery? Suspend em for a week, that’ll teach them.
The dumbing down of America, no wonder our country is going to the toilet.
I wonder if cootie shots qualify for assault charges these days.
Or wet willies?
Where do we send our letters in support of this kid? Come on, I’m on a roll!
Against Stupidity |
April 4th, 2008 at 5:21 pm
Is “student resource officer” the assignment you get when you can’t pass the physical?
When did the definition of assault or weapon change? I thought unwanted physical contact was a battery? Was he trying to intimidate or coerce his friend?
A crime that occurs when one person tries to physically harm another in a way that makes the person under attack feel immediately threatened. Actual physical contact is not necessary; threatening gestures that would alarm any reasonable person can constitute an assault. Compare battery.
Stacking bogus charges should incur a financial penalty to the police department and or Officer. When you have to defend yourself against a charge that is clearly inappropriate the Police Department should be liable for the expense.
First, it’s not a toy camera, it’s a disposable camera, which as noted above carry very serious capacitors to run the very real flash.
Second, when instructions for this modification were posted on the net recently, and the Make Magazine blog linked to it, the comments at the linking site rapidly filled up with, basically, “Holy crap is that a bad idea”. This is a site for people who do hardware hacks and know more about this stuff than, say, a Cato staffer.
In a worst-case scenario, if the charge went in one arm and out the other, it might well be fatal.
I’m not actually sure if this is a case of overcharging.
Against Stupidity |
April 4th, 2008 at 9:25 pm
Even if the charge went in one arm and out the other, assuming the flash capacitor is 120uf and it was charged to 300 volts, it would contain about 10 joules, just at the threshold that might cause heart fibrillation. Even in this case, you’d probably be lucky if you could get more than 5 joules into the person.
Maybe if you somehow made a sharp point contact with the skin or an arc developed you might get a pinpoint burn, but this would be a fluke.
Given the design shown on the internet. Its a real nasty practical joke. Is it a weapon, not even close. Electrically dangerous, not very, the person is more likely fall down and hurt themselves from being startled. Is it an assault, I’m no lawyer, but I think the cop is blowing smoke out his ass.
“Even if the charge went in one arm and out the other, assuming the flash capacitor is 120uf and it was charged to 300 volts, it would contain about 10 joules, just at the threshold that might cause heart fibrillation.” Actually, it’s about 5 joules (1/2 capacitance * voltage-squared) – and that would be a large, heavy, and expensive capacitor that I wouldn’t expect to find in a disposable camera.
“Hacking the Kodak Max Single Use Flash Camera into a Self-Repeating Strobe”
“DANGER – The photoflash in a Kodak Max typically stores 5.4 joules of energy. There is considerable talk in the world that it takes 10 joules to kill someone from a capacitor discharge, but there is also significant scientific opinion the lesser amounts have some chance of being fatal. Critical variables include skin moisture content and distribution and also what point of the heartbeat cycle your heart is in if you get shocked.”