BCSO to begin using tasers

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 16, 2002

Members of the Butler County Sheriff's Office got first-hand experience yesterday as they trained and became certified to use the M-26 taser gun.

Deputies were trained in the use of the guns and also had to experience the shock of the taser themselves.

The gun, a pistol-like device, is used to gain control of a subject. The gun sends 50,000 volts of electricity through the subjects' bodies and renders them helpless long enough to allow officers to handcuff or gain control of them. The tasers can be used from up to 21 feet away and uses Electro-Muscular Disruption (EMD) to stop a subject who is resisting arrest or fighting with an officer.

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The gun reduces the risk of a subject being hurt or killed and gives officers the ability to overtake a subject without having to actually shoot or strike him and possibly cause irreparable damage or death.

According to Sheriff Diane Harris, the Butler County Sheriff's Office used money collected from the sale of the Hartsell land to purchase ten taser guns for BCSO members. &uot;None of the taxpayers' money was used to buy these guns,&uot; Harris said. &uot;We bought them with money we were awarded after the sale of the Hartsell land.&uot;

Harris said she has wanted to bring the taser guns into use since a sheriff's conference last year.

&uot;I fell in love with this at last year's sheriff's conference,&uot; she said. &uot;I wanted to get them in Butler County.&uot;

The tasers will be used only by certified members of the Sheriff's Office and each gun can be connected to a computer and shows a record of each time it has been used.

&uot;This way, nobody can say we shocked them a bunch of times and hurt them,&uot; Chief Deputy Kenny Harden said. &uot;They can't take us to court and sue us.&uot;

Harden also advised BCSO members that they should make sure someone is with them when they use the taser device. This way, the deputy or officer will have someone to help handcuff and control the subject after the taser effect wears off.

The guns will be used in the Butler County Jail by the jailers to prevent escapes, fights and other inmate problems. They will also be carried by deputies on patrol.

The taser shoots out two straight prongs into the subject. These prongs are connected to the gun by wire coils. When the prongs enter the subject, electric currents course through the body for five seconds. This renders the subjects helpless as they lose muscle control. A subject will most likely fall to the ground and officers must react quickly and handcuff the subject while he is down.

The tasers do not damage nervous tissue, has no effect on cardiac pumping and causes no serious burns. No deaths have been reported in relation with the taser guns. They will not cause urination or defecation and may be used in a wet environment without fear of electrocution.

The guns will cause a subject to fall immediately. The subject may yell or scream and may also experience involuntary muscle contractions. They will usually freeze with legs locked and be unable to move for a few seconds. The shock can cause tingling and the subject may be dazed for a few seconds. The only other side effect possible is critical stress amnesia.

The members of the Butler County Sheriff's Office are now certified in the use of the taser guns and will be armed with the guns beginning this week.