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Archive for Monday, September 13, 2004

Olathe school officers carry Tasers

September 13, 2004

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— Misbehaving students at Olathe East High School may be stunned to find out what police officer Jeff Jewett is carrying through the school's halls this year.

All of the school-based and patrol officers in Olathe are carrying an X26 Taser, which can subdue a person with a five-second, 50,000-volt shock through wires connected to prongs that can penetrate clothing.

Jewett has added the Taser to the gun, baton and pepper spray he carries as he works with Olathe East's 1,400 students.

The weapons also are being worn by some school-based officers in Lenexa and Lee's Summit and North Kansas City, Mo.

So far, none of the officers has had reason to use the weapon.

"It's our hope that by our officers carrying these, we reduce the risk of injury to the suspect or the officer," said Olathe Police Department spokesman Sgt. Greg O'Halloran.

So far, no Olathe parents or teachers have complained about having the Tasers in schools. And at least one student approves of Jewett carrying the weapon.

"It makes me feel safer," senior Keith Spreckels said. "I'm not going to do anything where he has to use it on me. But I think it's cool that he has a Taser and can shoot someone 21 feet away."

Some school-based officers are not given Tasers simply because some departments don't have enough of them. In Shawnee, the department has about 20 Tasers and two officers who have been trained as instructors. Capt. Ron Copeland said he did not think that school officers would be in the group of 20 that received the Taser training and weapons.

School resource officers in Lee's Summit were offered the option of carrying Tasers after completing the necessary training, department spokesman Mike Childs said.

"Compared to other pieces of equipment, the decision to have them have the option of carrying the Taser was somewhat of a no-brainer," Childs said.

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