One year later, Tasers proving to be good investment for police
Non-lethal device has already saved livesWhile responding to a domestic dispute call Prineville Police Officer Jeremiah Reid found himself on the wrong end of a hunting rifle.
With the barrel of the rifle in one hand and his Taser in the other, he had a choice to make.
Reid had responded to the call at 6:45 p.m. A woman had locked herself in a closet - a closet full of hunting rifles. Her boyfriend opened the door and the woman turned around with a rifle pointed out of the closet. Reid already had his Taser in hand.
"After that call I am definitely a firm believer in the Taser," he said. "It works very well."
Prineville Police Chief Eric Bush explained the situation was one where deadly force would have been appropriate.
"(The Taser) literally saved that woman's life," he said.
Prineville Police Department has been using two X26 model Tasers for the past year. While threatening to use a Taser is frequent, the officers have only deployed the prongs of the device on a suspect a total of eight times in the past year.
Bush said he is glad his officers have another option to subdue suspects in physical resistance situations, other than a baton.
The department also uses CO2 pepper spray, and has for the past 15 years.
"Often one option will work more effectively than another," Bush said. "I don't think anyone (in the department) has used a baton in the last year. We would much rather use a Taser than physically put hands on the person and risk physical injury to them and the officer."
The two Tasers are tested before each shift. The cost of the Tasers and the batteries they require cost the police department about $300. Bush said he believes it is a small price to pay for the diminished risk of worker's compensation cost as a result of an physical altercation with a suspect, as well as alleviating the trauma an officer experiences when he or she must use deadly force.
The guidelines for Taser use are the same for all the department's "use of force" tools.
"Anytime anyone gives the impression they might be physically resistive we can use a Taser," Bush said.
Of the eight Tasered suspects, seven were male and one was female, and the ranged in age from 22 to 45.
Bush said Taser use is discouraged when the suspect is elderly or less than 10 years old. However, Bush said, Tasers have not been shown to cause permanent physical harm, and the officers have the discretion to use them on just about anyone.
Tasers are also discouraged when the use of one may result in a fall that causes injury, for example when someone is on top of a roof.
One officer described the sensation of being Tased as like putting your finger in a light socket and getting hit by a bat.
Officer Reid said the body is exhausted after being Tased, "You feel like you have run a mile."
The sensations, however unpleasant, are temporary.
Prineville Police Officers received training on the Tasers last year, including being Tased themselves.
"Everyone who has been hit by a Taser develops a respect for it," Bush said.
The chief of police said after a year of use, he believes the Taser is a tremendous tool. He said he would like to have enough Tasers for each officer to be equipped with one while on duty.
"Tasers are a real win for the community," Bush said. "You are reducing the risk of injury to suspects and the police officers themselves. The bottom line is, it is a piece of technology that helps keep everyone a little bit safer."