Thursday, April 15, 2004

Greenhills buys Tasers with Legion donation

By David Eck
Enquirer contributor

GREENHILLS - Police officers in this suburban department will soon be armed with Taser stun guns.

The Greenhills American Legion Post is donating the money to buy two Tasers, which cost about $800 each. The village is paying for another Taser.

Tasers fire two barbs that attach to a suspect's skin or clothing. The barbs deliver 50,000 volts of electricity for about five seconds to immobilize the suspect.

The three Tasers will be carried by the department's on-duty officers, Greenhills Police Sgt. Matt Johnson said. The department typically has two or three officers on duty.

"It's just another tool," Johnson said. "It's just something we've got to do."

Cincinnati is buying 1,100 Tasers. That purchase followed the November death of Nathaniel Jones. Jones died after his enlarged heart gave out after a violent confrontation with police officers.

Johnson said the Tasers give officers a nonlethal option in subduing a suspect.

"They have saved countless lives," Johnson said. ... It's just going to give us more options."

But there is growing national debate about the weapon's use. Some groups say officers are quick to use Tasers and the health effects are not clearly known.

Taser International, based in Scottsdale, Ariz., defends its weapons and said there have been no deaths directly linked to an officer's use of the weapon.

The American Legion post offered the money to buy the Tasers after a police department presentation.

"It gives (officers) that intermediate step rather than having to use lethal force. I just think it's a really good tool for the police to have,'' said post Commander Carl Rauschenberger, a former Cincinnati and Greenhills police officer.

Greenhills officials hope to have the weapons to the officers by June, Johnson said.

"When you need to supply a department with them, that's a tremendous cost," Johnson said.

"When you're a (small) department, you've got to be creative."


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