Archive for Sunday, August 29, 2010

Police find mere threat of using Taser is effective

The Taser Model X26, with the distinctive yellow handle, is carried by 41 Lawrence police officers.

The Taser Model X26, with the distinctive yellow handle, is carried by 41 Lawrence police officers.

August 29, 2010


In the two and a half years Lawrence police have been carrying bright yellow Tasers, the potentially painful and debilitating shock the devices can unload has become well-recognized by local suspects. And they want no part of it.

Police say carrying Tasers threat enough

About 40 police officers in Lawrence carry the weapons. Enlarge video

“Oh yeah, they know the yellow gun,” said Sgt. Matt Sarna, public affairs sergeant for the Lawrence police.

But the vast majority of the time, the Tasers never leave the holster.

In more than 300,000 police calls since the department got its first Tasers in 2008, the weapons have been used only 17 times. But the deterrent effect — the thought of being shot with the metal rods that seize a body’s muscles — is equally effective, Sarna said. Nearly three times as often — in 41 instances — Lawrence police have drawn a Taser, but didn’t use them.

For Lawrence police, Tasers have been a success, Sarna said. They’re “another tool for our officers to have on their tool belt.” But the hope is for infrequent use.

“It’s not something we teach them to use every time they go out on an incident,” Sarna said. “We always want to see the numbers low.”

The 41 officers — roughly a fourth of the department — who carry the $1,000 Tasers went through training on how to use them, when to use them and what it feels like to be stunned with one. Sarna said being stunned gives officers an idea of what they may potentially be putting a suspect through.

“We do know what it feels like. It hurts,” he said, adding that Tasers are used only when a suspect is actively trying to harm an officer or someone else.

When an officer pulls the trigger, two thin metal rods — which can reach up to 25 feet — shoot out. When they pierce a person’s skin, an electrical shock is administered through cords connected to the device. The Tasers administer a fraction of an amp, which is enough to temporarily disable a person’s muscle control, allowing police to make an arrest. Once the rods attach, officers can give additional jolts every five seconds.

TASER International, the manufacturer, describes the voltage used by Tasers as far less than Christmas tree lights or a wall socket.

But Tasers — used by more than 14,000 law enforcement agencies worldwide — are not without their critics or high-profile, lethal incidents.

In July, a Lansing man died after Leavenworth police used a Taser on him three times. However, preliminary autopsy reports showed the man had cocaine in his system and had an enlarged heart, which may have contributed to his death. Earlier this year, Shawnee County settled a wrongful death lawsuit for $350,000 following the 2008 death of a man stunned by Topeka police.

Amnesty International attributes to Tasers more than 300 deaths worldwide since 2001.

To prevent possible medical problems with Tasers, Sarna said Lawrence police follow strict safety measures. Every time an officer uses a Taser on a suspect, that person is taken to the hospital as a precaution. No serious injuries have resulted since the department began using Tasers, and the positives have far outweighed the negatives in Lawrence, he said.

“It hasn’t proven to be a problem in Lawrence,” Sarna said. “It’s just a perfect example of a less-lethal weapon we can use to stop somebody.”


Roland Gunslinger 3 years, 7 months ago

Having been tazed myself (as a volunteer) I can say it was the most intense whole body pain I've ever endured. The five second ride felt like 10 minutes. I had no control at all of my body. I was able to groan and utter a word or two but that was the extent of my abilities. It was one of those moment where I said to myself "I instantly regret this".


twobigones 3 years, 7 months ago

I ran in to an off duty officer at the VFW. Just his employment is an effective warning. SPOOKY DRUNK ON THE FORCE WITH WEAPON ALWAYS BEING CARRIED. Followed me in to bathroom and exposed his gun...........for what reason ???


GUMnNUTS 3 years, 7 months ago

Ahh, don't we all miss the days of being beaten repeatedly with the nightstick?


purplesage 3 years, 7 months ago

Are there any studies as to whether the taser increases the willingness of law enforcement to us a violent means to settle a situation? And whether tasing people makes shooting them any easier?

A taser is not as lethal as a gun, but it is, in the right circumstance deadly force.


booyalab 3 years, 7 months ago

The taser is a dream come true for humane law enforcement. You couldn't IMAGINE a better device unless your goal was keeping ruffians happy, over keeping the peace. Bring out...the comfy chair!


Bob Kraxner 3 years, 7 months ago

Here in Podunk ,USA, tazers are the only gun the cops even need to be carrying. Anyway, How about some statistics on the gun that does more damage than any other ?.... the I mean, radar gun !


macon47 3 years, 7 months ago

hey, if they are being the typical lawrence jerks , who want to exert thier rights zap them , and call their mommies and daddies to take them home and spank them no one has time for that crap


Glenn Reed 3 years, 7 months ago

I still don't get why a law enforcement officer packing a taser is still such a controversial topic.

The absolutely least complicated way of looking at the subject is...

Handgun: Lethal weapon. (Even if properly trained in use). Taser: Less-lethal weapon. (Even if NOT properly trained in use).


SuperJustdan 3 years, 7 months ago

Love the taser gun sure beats the Glock .


mr_right_wing 3 years, 7 months ago

EVERYONE is better off if it comes down to taser vs. gun vs. physical contact with a taser being used.

There is no perfect defense against someone who is not going to listen and/or obey.

Thank you law enforcement for the job you do protecting and serving.


equalaccessprivacy 3 years, 7 months ago

What an informative article. I stand with Amnesty International on this issue, but it's interesting to see the taser picture and hear how they work.

Yes, a Citizen's Review Board. The ethics of the Powers that Be in Lawrence are beyond nonexistent.


BallHawk 3 years, 7 months ago

There is an error in the terms appears they start talking of "amperage" the correct term reference for this article and switch to "voltage" the incorrect term. Proofreading wins again!!


pace 3 years, 7 months ago

We need a Citizens Review Board. The gap between fact and PR is growing every day.


lawrencenerd 3 years, 7 months ago

This isn't even news. It is just blatant PR for the LPD.


lawrenceguy40 3 years, 7 months ago

My Christmas tree lights - 9 volts. My wall socket - 110 volts. TASER carried by LPD - 300,000 volts.

Someone is not telling the whole truth here! But TASER are in the law enforcement business, so being untruthful is usual business practice for them, somewhat like the LPD.


pizzapete 3 years, 7 months ago

If the mere threat of being shot or electrocuted is so effective why don't we threaten 'em with having their hands cut off or eye's poked out as well.


Flap Doodle 3 years, 7 months ago

By looking at the context, it seems clear that Sarna is talking about the LPD. He didn't say "...over in Topeka, they've never used a taser when a suspect isn't actively trying to harm an officer or someone else."


Jimo 3 years, 7 months ago

"Tasers are used only when a suspect is actively trying to harm an officer or someone else."

Yet the article itself references the 2008 Topeka case that puts the lie to the above statement - where no office was threatened, where no third party was threatened.

Since this claim doesn't appear to be a direct quote of Sgt. Sarna did the journalist mischaracterize Sarna's claim?

Someone is (pardon the pun) dead wrong here. Please post a follow up to clarify who.


somebodynew 3 years, 7 months ago

LJW - better check you facts. Shawnee County did not settle due to TPD tazing a person - - a Shawnee County Deputy was the one who did it. That would be like Douglas County settling a lawsuit because LPD did something.

Maybe another cup of coffee????


Hope_And_Change 3 years, 7 months ago

They should try stamping their feet and holding their breath as a threat to intimidate as well.


papakeno 3 years, 7 months ago

........Parents find the mere threat of using belt is effective!! ........

I love this paper, does it get any better?



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