(This article is based on a report submitted to the National Association of Chiefs of Police. The writer is the organization's public information officer.)
The recent deployment of Tasers to State Police troopers for use in confrontationalsituations is helping to ensure the safety of the public and officers themselves, Commissioner Jeffrey B. Miller said yesterday.
"Tasers already have proven to be highly effective, non-lethal weapons for subduing individuals threatening harm to themselves or others," Miller said during a news conference at the State Police Academy in Hershey, PA.
"They have been used with great success to control people who are under theinfluence of drugs or alcohol; suffering from mental health issues; or who simply are intent on harming themselves, our officers or others.
"In some of these cases, there is no doubt our troopers would have been required to grapple with the individuals, strike them with their batons, or fire their service weapons to protect themselves or others. The Taser provides an excellent option to the use of deadly force."
Miller said Tasers have been used in a wide variety of circumstances, including the following situations:
-- Two troopers in Clearfield County responded to a report of anintoxicated man arguing with his elderly parents. The troopers found thesubject armed with a rifle, which he pointed at them. One of the troopersfired his Taser and the man was taken into custody.
-- Troopers in Cumberland County encountered a man armed with a knifewho was threatening suicide. When the man refused commands to drop theknife, a trooper fired his Taser and the officers were able to disarm thesubject.
-- Adult probation officers in Franklin County called State Policeseeking assistance with a suspect who had wrestled with them and fled onfoot. A trooper found the man, who was carrying a glass bottle. When theman ignored the trooper's commands and tried to run away, the trooper usedhis Taser and took the suspect into custody.
Taser is the brand name of an electronic immobilization device, or EID, that fires two darts attached to wires. The device delivers a 50,000-volt charge, incapacitating an individual long enough for troopers to take the person into custody without causing permanent harm to the individual.
Miller said State Police conducted a two-year study of the possible use of EIDs and initiated a pilot program in 2006 by providing Tasers to 18 officers statewide.
Based on results of that program, Miller said, State Police this year began training and equipping 3,000 troopers with Taser X26 model devices made by Taser International Inc. of Scottsdale, Ariz. The Tasers, which cost $899 per unit, were purchased primarily with asset forfeiture funds.
Miller said troopers used their Tasers 144 times during the first six months of this year.
"The response from troopers in the field has been completely positive," Miller said.
"One of the key reasons is that using Tasers means it's much less likely that an officer will become involved in a physical confrontation that could result in injuries to the suspect or the officer."
Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police. He's former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed "Crack City" by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for a number of organizations. He's also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country. He writes for many police and crime magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer, Campus Law Enforcement Journal, and others. He's appeared as on-air commentator for over 100 TV and radio news and talk shows including Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, Fox News, etc. His book Assume The Position is available at Amazon.Com, Booksamillion.com, and can be ordered at local bookstores. Kouri holds a bachelor of science in criminal justice and master of arts in public administration and he's a board certified protection professional.