Just the sound of a Taser’s electric sting can make some of the most reluctant criminal suspects comply with police.
For others, it requires a bit more — something some officers refer to as “taking the ride.”
That’s the feeling of your body seizing up as 50,000 volts of electricity course through it.
Either way, local authorities believe Tasers make them — and the suspects they are apprehending — safer.
Tasers serve as a deterrent to resistant behavior or subdue unruly suspects without the need for a brawl, authorities say.
The weapon has become more popular as a tool for law enforcement officers in Bartholomew County.
The Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Department recently purchased 50 Tasers for its career deputies, volunteer reserves and Bartholomew County Jail correction officers.
Columbus Police Department officers started carrying Tasers in October 2008.
According to deputies, the $58,500 price tag the sheriff’s department paid for the Tasers was worth it to give officers another way beyond physical altercations, their guns and pepper spray to resolve certain incidents.
Maj. Todd Noblitt, chief deputy of the sheriff’s department, said Tasers are applicable in some but not all circumstances.
They come in handy when a suspect acts aggressively toward an officer or tries to run. But they are not the right tool if a suspect threatens an officer with a gun, he said.
In those cases, the officer should meet that threat of force with his gun.
“We just try to give ourselves an advantage in every situation to have a successful outcome,” Noblitt said.
Columbus police officials say they believe Tasers have helped reduce the number of injuries officers sustain, because they are involved in fewer scuffles with resistant suspects.
City officers have deployed their Tasers 36 times since being armed with them, said Lt. Matt Myers, spokesman for the police department.
“We feel like they’ve increased public safety and overall officer safety,” Myers said. “Just by their presence, we feel like it deters a lot of people from getting in a situation with police they don’t want to get in.”
Noblitt said the sheriff’s department already has begun seeing the benefits of being armed with Tasers.
During the recent arrest of a suspect wanted on a warrant, the suspect resisted letting deputies take him into custody. A deputy pulled his Taser, and the suspect surrendered when he heard the device’s buzzing sound.
An undercover sheriff’s deputy who is certified to train other deputies on how to use the Tasers said the device is helpful in subduing suspects, because it stops them but does not cause harm.
“It’s not about pain. It clinches your body up,” the undercover deputy said. “You can still hear and see what’s going on around you, but you can’t move.”
But as word spreads that deputies are carrying Tasers, they figure their usage will decrease.
Just the sight of the yellow devices should stop some suspects in their tracks, Noblitt said.
“It’s just simply another tool for our officers,” he said.
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