September 1, 2014

County leaders get up-close demo of zapping someone with a tazer

Two Gage County officers were literally in the line of fire at a county board meeting this week. They were guinea pigs in a demonstration on the use of a taser.

County Corrections Officer Aaron Smith took a jolt from two electrodes attached to wires, fired from a taser gun cartridge. The probes that are fired from a taser gun can hit a target up to 25 feet away.

Sheriff’s investigator John Chavez explained to county supervisors policies and procedures for when officers employ a tazer, which isn’t often.

“We obviously try to talk to the individual and ask them to do things,” Chavez says. “If they’re not compliant, we go to them and go hands on, depending on the scenarios we have. If that’s not possible the tazer is available then.”

Sheriff’s Deputy Spencer Behrends was the victim during demonstration of what’s call a “drive stun” or direct contact with the taser.

Chavez says officers in the department have used the taser about ten times, over several years. He notes, sometimes an offender only needs to see the device get pulled from its holster and they’ll back off.

“Once this is turned on, it gives this red dot,” he says. “That’s a big deterrent in itself. They know that it’s working and something is about to happen.”

Certified law officers can use the taser, but Chavez says there’s also a civilian taser that requires a background check before being able to use it. He says the use of the taser has dramatically dropped the number of officer and civilian injuries and deaths.

By Doug Kennedy, KWBE, Beatrice