Sep 092004
 
Authors: Erin Skarda

Students should think twice before getting into a conflict with a CSU police officer due to a shocking new addition to the force.

At 7 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 4, CSU patrol officers began carrying Taser energy weapons as a new tool to use in apprehending hostile suspects.

Cpl. David Hurley of the CSUPD said the decision was made after the department investigated the safety and effectiveness of the weapons for many months.

“The department decided it wanted to utilize technology to help with people not compliant or resistant to arrest,” Hurley said.

Officers completed a four-hour certification course before being allowed to carry the weapon. While some police forces using Tasers require their officers to be struck by it, Hurley said in this case it was voluntary. However, most of the officers did decide to be struck by the Taser to see the effects.

CSUPD purchased six of the TASER model X26, designed to shoot two probes on wire leads up to 21 feet. Officers on patrol are required to carry the weapon during their shift, Hurley said.

“You get struck with probes designed to penetrate clothing and go into the skin,” Hurley said. “It deploys two probes in trying to hit large muscle mass.”

This model can penetrate up to five centimeters of clothing on contact. Once the probes are attached, 50,000 volts of electric current are carried down the wires, incapacitating the muscle movement of the suspect.

According to www.taser.com, the X26 sends an automatic five-second burst of energy on contact, which is interruptible. For the first two seconds, the probes deploy 19 pulses per second and for the last three seconds it deploys 15 pulses per second.

John Mazurek, a junior graduate student studying science, knows first-hand what it feels like to be hit with a Taser.

“I’ve been Tasered. It sucked,” Mazurek said. “It was a pretty high voltage Taser. I didn’t get knocked unconscious but it didn’t feel good. I was sore for a while. It left burn marks in my skin, but it wasn’t bad.”

Although he had a bad experience with Tasers, Mazurek said the CSUPD carrying the weapons could be a good idea.

“I think in the most extreme circumstances (officers) may need something to subdue (suspects). It needs to be serious to use a Taser, obviously. They don’t know the health problems a person may have such as heart problems. (Getting hit with a Taser) can hurt them,” Mazurek said.

Hurley said the Tasers giver officers another, less violent, tool to assist in arrests.

“The advantage is that it gives us an extra tool to utilize in apprehending and controlling violent suspects with less lethal technology,” Hurley said. “We carry a chemical weapon, mace, an ASP, which is the baton and a firearm. The Taser is another intermediary device before using a firearm to subdue someone who is violent.”

Tasers have been shown to significantly decrease the number of suspects and officers injured during a confrontation, Hurley said. Many other college police departments have issued Tasers to their officers, including the University of Northern Colorado, who began carrying them this fall.

Riley Lovato, a freshman engineering open option major, said he thinks Tasers are a good idea, as long as they are used correctly.

“There’s some pretty big guys, if they were drunk I don’t know how much mace would help,” Lovato said.

Lovato said if the officers aren’t trained properly, he feels there may be room for abuse.

Hurley said there have been incidents where injuries could’ve been avoided, had an alternative tool, such as a Taser, been used.

“We have seen situations in the past where we could have benefited (from using Tasers),” Hurley said. “We’re hoping that by getting media exposure about the Tasers, less people will be confrontational.”

Benefits of Tasers (Source: www.taser.com)

Officer injuries down 80%

* Before: 120 per year

* After: 24 per year

* Source: Orange County (FL) Sheriff’s Office

Suspect injuries down 67%

* Test period: 6 months

* Source: Phoenix (AZ) Police Department, the first top ten city to issue TASER to all patrol officers

Lethal force down 78%

* Before: 18 shots in 24 months

* After: 4 shots in 24 months

* Source: Orange County (FL) Sheriff’s Office

Baton strikes down 56%

* Before: 27 strikes per year

* After: 12 strikes per year

* Source: Orange County (FL) Sheriff’s Office

Liability savings

* $2.5 million

* Lethal incidents avoided: 3

* Period: First year

* Average cost: $833 K

* Source: Los Angeles (CA) Sheriff Department Est.

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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