With the help of a state grant and money gathered from drug cases, Wendell police will soon receive new tasers to replace out-of-date models.
The $19,000 replacement effort is being paid for through a $14,300 North Carolina Governor’s Crime Commission grant and another $4,766 will come from Wendell police’s ‘drug fund’ – money gathered from various drug busts the department handled.
Police Chief Bill Carter told town commissioners at the Sept. 22 board meeting that the department currently has 7-year-old tasers. They still work, but the normal life cycle for a taser is about five years.
And in addition to that, the department doesn’t have enough tasers for all officers. Carter himself doesn’t carry a taser.
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The tasers typically go to patrol officers first, who may need to use the tool to minimize harm to someone being arrested and themselves.
“(A taser) just really shuts down the muscles and people will pretty much not have any control over their muscles at that point,” Carter said. For arresting officers, this can make it easier and safer to control a resisting suspect.
In Carter’s two years as chief, he told commissioners the tasers have only been used successfully twice. Officers used the tasers a third time but the probes that deliver the electric current did not connect all the way.
In order for it to work, two probes must be connected to the body to send an electrical current to the muscles.
“The electricity level is about the level someone would get if they rubbed their feet on a carpet and shocked someone,” said Wendell patrol officer Jason Fulghum. “It’s just a sustained shock.”
Carter and Fulghum gave commissioners a quick primer on the current tasers and said it was important to use the equipment, since it is a common tool for many police departments.
With every new piece of equipment, officers must be trained and the tasers are no exception.
Carter said all officers who currently carry a taser have some basic training and they will go through a less extensive, more specific training to familiarize them with the new taser model.
Officers who have no previous taser training will get full training, which includes being tased themselves to know what the sensation feels like.
Right now, Carter said, there are no officers who will need to complete the full training.