The casino industry likes to tell everyone that they are simply a family entertainment venue where everyone is welcome and no one should have any safety concerns. Unfortunately for the Missouri casino industry, the General Assembly has let the cat out of the bag. As reported by the Columbia Missourian the General Assembly has allocated $32,438 to purchase 24 tasers to be carried by law enforcement at the Missouri casinos. Law enforcement officials believe this is a necessary move to protect Missouri gamblers from the violence one can experience at a casino. At explained by the Missourian:
The Missouri State Highway Patrol, which sought the Tasers for its officers, said they are needed to quell violent situations that sometimes erupt as gamblers are drinking alcohol and losing money. Last year alone, there were 41 instances where officers had to use force in casinos
The casinos are not happy to say the least. Mike Winter, executive director of the Missouri Gaming Association, the head lobbyist group for the casinos, said he was concerned the tasers would be used inappropriately on casino patrons. Considering the level of training and professionalism of our law enforcement officers, to say this comment is offensive understates its impact. These tasers are used as an alternative to deadly force as further explained by the Missourian:
When confronting suspects or dangerous situations, the first option still is to use verbal commands, followed by physical force and, as a last resort, a gun, public safety officials said.
“The Taser is merely a tool within that use of force continuum that is short of having to shoot somebody,” said Mark James, director of the Department of Public Safety.
It’s a sad day for the casino industry when their best argument for keeping tasers out of their violent casinos is potential misuse by a trained officer. If the current level of violence continues to rise in Missouri casinos we may have to increase the number of trained officers at each of these “family fun entertainment venues” from the already unbelievably high number of 110 officers at just 12 casinos. You should think twice before you go out for a fun and quiet night at the casino.