BY PAMELA MCLAREN
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
“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
” In addition, campus officers will undergo
regular reviews and receive periodic updates.