June 21, 2013
On June 16, 2013 at approximately 4:15 a.m., OSP was dispatched to a report of a person walking naked along Interstate 5 north of Ashland. The lone trooper on duty in the area arrived on scene and saw an unidentified female walking in darkness southbound with her back to traffic on the fog line in an unlit area. Without backup available, the female trooper tried to get the female’s attention to get her to come to the car but was met with no verbal response or cooperation. When a passing motorist stopped at the scene, the female moved out into the traffic lanes and as the trooper followed she didn’t get any response or show of cooperation. As the situation continued to quickly unfold, the trooper used a Taser to keep the female from continuing to move into a position on the freeway, where others may suddently drive upon the scene with no reasonable expectation of pedestrians on the roadway, that would put her or others at risk.
After checking the female for any injury and finding none, the trooper placed the resistive female in the patrol car and took her to an area hospital. After arrival, the female continued to be unresponsive to questions and was resistant to medical staff’s help. Her behavior and physical development led medical staff and the trooper to think she was in her late teens to early 20’s. At that time they also started thinking she may be autistic.
While at the hospital, OSP sent a news release to area media asking for help to identify the female for which there was no information explaining how and why she was along the freeway. With the help of the local 9-1-1 center, she was identified and contact made with a family member. It was only at this time that her actual age (11) was learned. Once in contact with her family, OSP shared details of what happened and will update her family as needed.
OSP understands that this incident has caused concern while many parts of the story were being reported and picked up on social media. Per policy, OSP reviews all use-of-force incidents involving our troopers. We are grateful the girl was identified quickly and reunited with family that morning after being checked out at the hospital.
In June 2012, OSP began equipping all troopers assigned to the Patrol Services Division and Fish & Wildlife Division with Taser X2 electronic control devices (ECD). OSP troopers go through 8 hours of mandatory training to handle potential use of force situations with an appropriate level of response to minimize possible injury to our troopers and persons they are contacting. Ninety (90) percent of U.S. law enforcement agencies use ECD equipment as a safe use-of-force option compared to traditional use-of-force tools. The Taser is an alternative to deadly force, impact weapons (baton) and physical resistance which may involve fighting with people, often leading to injuries to the officer and/or person.
During the last few years on average, OSP troopers were annually involved in over 250,000 calls resulting in contacts with people. During 2012, OSP troopers reported 125 use-of-force incidents - approximately .05% of OSP contacts. Preliminary information indicates use-of-force incidents are trending down since OSP troopers been carrying Tasers in late 2012, possibly because the displaying of a Taser during a potential use-of-force situation is known to diffuse resistance and gain compliance.