Special Report : When to Tase? - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Special Report : When to Tase?

ALBANY, GA (WALB) -

In the wake of police involved shootings around the country, non-lethal tactics are being looked at more often to take down suspects who do not comply with commands.

Albany-Dougherty Drug Agents have recently purchased new Tasers which they say are not only saving the lives of the officers but the suspects as well.

In September, video captured on Taser video showed how SWAT officers diffused a potentially deadly situation when encountering an armed man inside a car in the parking lot of the Albany Civic Center.

Some people call it inhumane, but law enforcers say it's actually a lifesaving tool.

They say using a Taser in a situation like this helped to avoid a potential gun battle.

While the weapons fire out 50,000 volts of electricity, they don't produce the amps that result in electrocution. And despite cases in which stun-gun devices have been blamed for deaths, law officers say it minimizes the use of lethal force.

The video is shocking – criminal suspects being tased by police. Some call it inhumane but law enforcers say it's actually a lifesaving tool.

"When someone is running or lunging for something whether it's a gun a knife, the Taser helps us gain advantage so we can take control of the individual," said Albany-Dougherty Drug Unit Captain Eddie Jones.

He said that was the exact situation captured on taser video in September. SWAT officers defused a potentially deadly situation when encountering an armed man inside a car in the parking lot of the Albany Civic Center.

Still, there are headlines across the country that question the use of the electronic weapons.

Amnesty International estimates that between 2001 and 2013, 540 people died as a result of stun devices.

But officers say it's much safer than the alternatives.

"Most injuries the people getting tased have are scrapes where they fall down and scrape their knee or elbow. But that's minor injuries compared to having to tackle somebody and them hitting their head," ADDU Agent Corporal Richard Norman.

Like other ADDU agents, Norman is a certified Taser instructor. And any law enforcement officer who carries the weapon must first have it used on them.

"It's the worst feeling I've ever had in my life," he said.

Since 2013, Albany Police Department has reported a total of 110 cases in which Tasers have been used, with numbers dropping each year.

Officers are regulated as to where on the body they can fire the weapon and there are protocols in place for when it can be used.

"We give verbal commands which is stop or halt so people can recognize that we are the police. We give verbal commands," Norman said. "If we don't get the verbal compliance then we will deploy the taser."

The Taser X2 is the Taser of choice by the Albany Dougherty Drug Unit. It has an HD camera below the handle and it sends out about 50,000 volts of electricity that last for about 5 seconds.

The HD camera is also providing better documentation for accountability purposes. And Captain Jones says the proof of its effectiveness is in the numbers.

"Having the Taser has really reduced the number of officer violence complaints or the officer using excessive force," said Jones.

Whatever event is going on, the officer gains control, handcuffs the individual and that's where the incident stops.

While tasers send out thousands of volts of electricity, it has low amps. ADDU agents purchased their tasers with seized drug money and review all taser video for training purposes. 

Copyright  2015 WALB.  All rights reserved.

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