Thursday, October 18, 2001

Hamilton police getting new weapon


Air Tasers said to be a safe alternative

By Janice Morse
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        HAMILTON — All 40 Hamilton police cruisers are being equipped with a new “less lethal” weapon: Air Tasers.

        The weapon, unveiled at a training session Wednesday, fires darts that shock a suspect's muscles.

        Similar weapons are being considered to arm airline pilots against terrorists. Hundreds of police agencies are using the device, including Cincinnati and a few others in the Tristate.

        Police Chief Neil Ferdelman said he's convinced the new technology will help protect officers as well as suspects and the public “and might possibly save a life.”

        Chief Ferdelman is ensuring the department's 130 officers receive at least four hours of training on the weapon's proper use — about twice the manufacturer-recommended level. The chief also has issued an order specifying conditions under which the Taser may be deployed. It may be used only against “violent or potentially violent” suspects who defy officers' orders or present risk of serious injury to themselves or others.

        During Wednesday's training, officers practiced on high-tech targets — and on a few volunteers.

        Officer Greg Baker said the Taser caused “sharp, intense pain” that “totally incapacitated” him. But he recovered quickly.

        The effects typically last 20 seconds to a minute — long enough for an officer to handcuff a suspect, Sgt. Ed Buns said.

        The weapons, each about $400, were obtained through a federal law-enforcement grant, the chief said.

        Jane Prendergast and Sheila McLaughlin contributed to this story.

       



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