Police gain a jolt of self-confidence
The Fourth of July was more like Christmas for South Lake Tahoe Police Department.
New Taser stun guns, which can drop an unruly and noncompliant person with a five-second jolt of 50,000 volts, were carried by some patrol officers during the nation’s birthday Sunday. None were used.
The non-lethal guns, 15 of them, were bought in June with asset forfeiture money at a price tag of near $18,000, said Lt. Martin Hewlett.
Training on the Tasers was completed last week. One supervising officer in each of the department’s nine units that patrolled the city during July 4th carried the device.
On Friday, Detective Danny Mosqueira and officer Jeff Roberson, who had two days of training in Reno on the guns, instructed officers for four hours.
Mosqueira said after all measures fail, officers need to give only one warning to a combative subject that a Taser will be used.
“Don’t dilly-dally around with this folks,” he said.
Douglas County sheriff’s deputies use a different, older Taser model. Deputies use them mostly on unruly, drunken people who resist arrest in the casino corridor.
El Dorado County Sheriff’s Department is interested in purchasing stun guns but is still shopping around.
The electricity mimics the signals used by the brain that is sent to muscles, Mosqueira said. He likened it to two people having a telephone conversation and suddenly a third person jumps on the line and starts yelling.
The model the police department is using, the X26, is equipped with a laser sight, a display showing power level and an energy pulse that uses a majority of its power after clothes or skin is penetrated, according to the Taser Web site.
Two darts are expelled, one straight and the other at an 8 degree angle, when the trigger is pulled. For a good connection, both darts should attach to the body in large muscle areas, Mosqueira said.
Asked if people with certain medical conditions should not be hit, Mosqueira said countless tests have been done on the Taser so practically everybody is safe, except when they fall to the ground. He said officers should use caution with the elderly, pregnant women and juveniles.
Hewlett prefers the Taser to other non-lethal tools. People can fight through pepper spray, batons and bean-bag projectiles. In comparison, mostly everyone is stopped by 50,000 volts. Officers can shoot a suspect with a Taser 21 feet away.
While the voltage is high, the amps are extremely low, which prevents a person from being electrocuted.
The guns also deter suicides and increase officer safety. Hewlett recalled his time in Southern California where many foot pursuits ended with a physical confrontation.
Batteries for the guns can last 10 years. Hewlett said patrol officers will be equipped with the guns on their belts at the end of this month.
– E-mail William Ferchland at email@example.com.