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From Dateline (October 28, 2004)

University Police Now Trained and Armed with Tasers

When force is deemed necessary to subdue a suspect, University Police officers formerly had few choices – use their bodies, a baton, or their guns. With the adoption this fall of the taser, campus officers now have another option: a nonlethal weapon that can reduce the risk of injury for both themselves and suspects.

“Our goal is to peacefully resolve an incident, but sometimes that isn’t possible,” said Chief Judi King. “This instrument allows us to take combative suspects into custody with a minimum of risk to our officer or to the subject.

”A taser fires two small probes that are secured to the weapon by 21 feet of wire. When the probes attach to an individual, the weapon sends a five-second electrical charge that overrides the body’s central nervous system and the individual falls to the ground.

Tussling with combative suspects, on the other hand, places both sides in harm’s way.

"We recently looked at our workers’ compensation claims and performed an analysis to see if there were any ways that we could improve our actions to lessen the possibility of injury,” said Detective Tom Gehrls. “We also looked at other police departments, including those within the CSU, who are using tasers. We believe this new technology can help us.

” Individuals who are hit with a taser may suffer minor skin irritation, muscle soreness and in some cases, minor bleeding, said Gehrls. The charge that is sent by the taser is less than that of a defibrillator, added the detective, who experienced the effects of a taser during training in its use – a requirement for campus officers.

In addition, if a taser is used by a campus officer, paramedics will be called and the individual will be taken to a hospital to be examined, Gehrls said.

The particular weapon in use by University Police carries a memory chip that keeps track of the shots fired, length of charge and other statistics that can be downloaded to a computer.

“Like any of the tools that our officers use in performing their duties, the better trained they are, the less chance there is of mishandling,” said King. “The computer chip allows us to carefully track deployment of the taser and evaluate its use.

” In addition, campus officers will undergo regular reviews and receive periodic updates.