Brentwood police officers are in the process of being trained in the use of the department’s newest weapon: TASERs.
The city has bought 63 of these electrical weapons, at a cost of $1,285 each. Chief Jeff Hughes said the TASERs are an important tool that will keep officers and members of the public safer.
“We believe this weapon will ultimately serve as a viable, less-lethal option that will allow officers to neutralize a threat while reducing the risk of serious injury to officers and subjects alike,” Hughes said, in a City of Brentwood news release.
Assistant Chief Thomas Walsh backed up this idea. “National statistics show that the use of [electronic control weapons] has resulted in lower injury rates to suspects and officers alike,” Walsh said in an email. “We hope we will never need to use the TASER, but in the event we do use it we are comfortable that it is a safer means of subduing a suspect than [pepper] spray or physical force.”
TASER weapons work by firing out two probes that deliver a 50,000 volt electrical signal upon impact, according to the company website. When a person is shot by a TASER, the weapon causes “an uncontrollable contraction of the muscle tissue,” which will “physically debilitate a target regardless of pain tolerance or mental focus.”
Brentwood Police are being trained in the use of the weapons by one of their own: Officer Bill Reape, a certified TASER instructor.
Reape explained the necessity and nature of the TASER training, in a City of Brentwood news release.
“Similar to any weapons training, officers are required to train and demonstrate proficiency in the use of this weapon,” Reape said. “Officers are also trained on the policies and procedures regarding all ‘use of force’ incidents.”
TASER training lasts eight hours, Walsh said.
Several officers have volunteered to be shot with TASERs during training. It may not sound pleasant, but there’s a reason for it.
“Although not required to carry the TASER, it is beneficial for those who are interested to physically feel the effect that it has on the nervous system,” Walsh said. “That should help them to better understand the response of a suspect when it is used.”
The pain associated with being hit by a TASER shot lasts only about five seconds, Walsh said.
Currently, the department has 14 officers who have gone through the training and are carrying TASERs. The department hopes to have all officers trained to use TASERs by the end of February.
Walsh said that it’s been many years since the department has adopted a new weapon technology like this. The last two examples he could think of are when the department added pepper spray and extendable batons to their list of weapons.