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Taser offers police 'intermediate solution' to subduing offenders

Each Oklahoma City police officer goes through a 10-hour Taser course every year.
BY MATT DINGER mdinger@opubco.com Modified: October 19, 2012 at 11:57 pm •  Published: October 21, 2012

Police officers have an assortment of nonlethal tools they can use to subdue aggressors.

When a person is “actively resisting in a defensive manner,” the officer must choose between a baton, chemical spray or a Taser, a brand of stun gun.

“It's more than passively resisting. It's more than just being uncooperative,” Master Sgt. Blake Webster said. “You're actively resisting, defensively trying to get away. You're resisting what the officer is trying to do.”

Nonlethal tools give police “an intermediate solution, so that we have more than going from just talking to a firearm,” he said.

“We have to understand that we have to use those or be able to justify why we didn't use those. We can't just simply go to the Taser and pull it out on every scenario. It's not always going to be the right tool for every problem,” he said.

The Taser delivers an electrical current of about 50,000 volts through two means:

Applied directly to the skin in what's called a “drive stun,” which is practiced on a rescue dummy.

Projectile deployment. When the trigger is depressed, a short-range cartridge fires and two pointed, barbed and electrified probes separate before they strike, delivering the charge through insulated copper wires connecting the electrified probes to the weapon.

The Taser's amperage is extremely low, so while it causes strong and immediate muscle reactions, the shock does no permanent damage. The current causes involuntary muscle spasms, and officers use that window to rush and subdue a suspect.

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