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Tue, Oct. 22

Taser use rare here

The Taser X26P

The Taser X26P

PRESCOTT – Law enforcement agencies in the Quad Cities issue Tasers to their officers, but they aren’t used frequently, representatives said.

Prescott Valley Police get new Tasers

The Daily Courier

PRESCOTT VALLEY – The police have 74 new Taser electronic weapons thanks to a $34,000 donation from the Prescott Valley Police Foundation.

The department added the donation to $22,000 in budgeted funds to make the purchase, PVPD spokesman Jerry Ferguson said.

“The department chose to replace their current stock of Tasers because of failing equipment and technological advancements that make the weapons more effective,” he added.

The new X26P weapons replace X26 models. Taser calls the X26P “safer and more effective.”

The Police Foundation was originally created primarily to purchase Kevlar vests for Prescott Valley officers, but, Ferguson said, those are now included in the department’s budget, to the Foundation can supply funds for other needed items.

The Foundation, a 501(c)3 non-profit, holds an annual fundraiser in the fall, and it has been popular. The event is a murder mystery dinner-silent auction-raffle, and this year it will be Oct. 21 and 22.

For more information on the Foundation, call 928-848-2468.

The Taser is an electronic control device (ECD) that police officers use to stun suspects. The Taser “gun” fires two probes, attached to the gun body by thin wires, which, when they strike a person, are intended to embed themselves in the skin and deliver the gun’s electrical shock of about 50,000 volts.

This causes temporary neuro-muscular incapacitation, or loss of muscle control, while the current is applied.

The Taser can also be used in “drive mode,” when the officer applies it directly to a suspect’s skin and shocks him.

But, while the Taser has a nominal 25-foot range, there are factors that can make it less effective, or completely ineffective.

If the suspect is wearing heavy clothing, the barbed probes may not penetrate all the way to contact the skin, and no contact means no shock delivered.

Or the suspect may pull one or both probes out of his skin, rendering them useless.

The Taser is called a “less lethal” weapon, putting it in same category as pepper spray and beanbag shotgun rounds.

Still, people have died after being shocked by a Taser. Manufacturer Taser International, of Scottsdale, maintains that the weapon will not harm a healthy person.

A National Institute of Justice study concluded that “there is no conclusive medical evidence that indicates a high risk of serious injury or death from the direct effects of (Tasers).”

However, some medical journals, including the American Heart Association’s “Circulation,” report the opposite – that the shock can throw a person’s heart out of rhythm, leading to death.

An article in that publication said police should not shock people with probes fired directly into the chest, because that makes heart arrhythmia more likely.

Prescott Police Lt. Jon Brambila said his department deployed Tasers four times in 2014 and three in 2015.

“It really just kinds of depends on the situation, and whether the Taser is the right instrument to use,” he said. “A lot of times, it’s not a good, sound, safe tactic to deploy when you’re by yourself.”

The Prescott Police Taser policy points out that “people with known heart conditions or medical conditions” should not be shocked with a Taser, nor should “the elderly,” children, pregnant women, and subjects who are using passive resistance.

The policy goes on to say, “Officers are not prohibited from making good, sound justifiable decisions in the use of the Taser on any suspect.”

Prescott Valley Police officers used their Tasers just six times in the 19 months between January 1, 2015 and July 1, 2016.

Lt. Scott Stebbins said, “We should probably use it more often than we do,” noting that officers “traditionally go hands-on” with suspects who want to fight, “but if we can step back and let the Taser do its work, that’s preferred.”

Officers are trained to demonstrate the electrical shock potential by making a spark. “(The suspect) can see the electricity flowing… and more times than not, it will prevent the person from resisting arrest. They’ll just submit right then and there,” Stebbins said.

PVPD does have a written Taser policy.

Chino Valley Police Lt. Vince Schaan said, “Tasers aren’t used very often.”

The Chino Valley Police seven-page policy on the use of Tasers spells out when they should be used – “the subject is violent or is physically resisting,” or “has demonstrated, by words or action, an intention to be violent or to physically resist, and reasonably appears to present the potential to harm officers, him/herself or others.”

It also sets out when the use of a Taser is not allowed.

“Mere flight from a pursuing officer, without other known circumstances or factors, is not good cause for the use” of the Taser, the policy says.

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