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New technology keeps police officers safer

April 12, 2011
By Brad Bauer ( , The Marietta Times

Over the years, Marietta Police Capt. Jeff Waite said he has seen tremendous advancements in technology that help keep officers safe and better solve crimes.

In terms of safety, Waite said he has been most impressed with the Tasers the department added more than two years ago.

"They completely eliminate the need to put a hand on a combative suspect," Waite said. "Attempting to gain control of a combative suspect has always been one of the most dangerous parts of this job."

Tasers are specialized guns that fire barbed projectiles into a subject and deliver an incapacitating electrical shock. The shock lasts about five seconds and generally results in compliance.

In late 2008, Marietta police and the municipal court purchased the $800 devices for their officers. Members of the Washington County Sheriff's Office and county jail have carried Tasers for about five years.

Waite said the department's officers used to carry stun guns, which were not very effective.

Fact Box

At a glance

About Tasers

Cost about $800 per device.

Carried by Marietta police, municipal court officials and Washington County sheriff's deputies.

Two metal barbs can be fired from the weapon from point-blank range to more than 20 feet away. The barbs deliver a 50,000-volt electrical shock designed to incapacitate a suspect for about five seconds.

"They required physical contact, which meant officers had to be in close proximity," he said. "The closer you are to a combative suspect, the greater your chances are of injury."

A Taser can be effective from point-blank range or from more than 20 feet away.

Waite said most individuals who resist arrest quickly comply when simply threatened with the shock of a Taser.

"We don't have to actually use them very often ... Maybe four or five times a year," he said.

Washington County Sheriff Larry Mincks also praised the Taser technology.

"We were getting to a point where we had officers getting injured more often with cuts and bruises from having to wrestle suspects," he said. "The mere presence of a Taser is usually enough to get compliance now. As far as our road crews go, I would be surprised if we actually used them more than two or three times a year."

Mincks said Tasers are used more often by corrections officers at the county jail.

"When they can't get compliance, they may have to use a Taser to get someone in a restraint chair," he said. "Usually after they sober up, or enough time goes by they comply and we don't have any more problems."



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