State Patrol to join other North Olympic Peninsula law-enforcers and carry Tasers
Port Angeles Police Officer Trevor Dropp displays a Taser used by his department. -- Photo by Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News
By Randy Trick, Peninsula Daily News
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Troopers who patrol the Peninsula were trained how to use the non-lethal tools Friday in Bremerton.
Troopers in other State Patrol regions also were in training last week.
Tasers are increasingly becoming a standard tool of law enforcement, and police say the stun gun has been a great aid to officer and public safety.
In Jefferson County, both the Port Townsend Police Department and the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office equip officers with the device.
Keeping more distance from an unruly person increases officer safety, while the Taser itself is easier on the person being shocked, officers say.
"With a Taser, it is the five-second shock, short debilitating pain with no lasting effects," said Sgt. Ed Green of the Port Townsend Police Department.
"If I hit you with a baton, I am going to injure you. I am going to break bones or have soft-tissue damage."
The Port Townsend Police Department bought Tasers in 2004, and officers have used them 12 times.
The Jefferson County Sheriff's Office bought the weapons five or six years ago, said Undersheriff' Tim Perry.
Perry said his department's records show the Taser was turned on 24 times from 2004 through 2007.
In Clallam County, the Forks Police Department and Port Angeles Police Department bought Tasers at about the same time, about seven years ago,
"The good thing about the Taser is that it gives an officer the option of incapacitating a suspect up to 25 feet away . . . as opposed to three feet with baton," said Jason Viada, a detective with the Port Angeles Police Department, who is trained to instruct other officers in Taser use.
The Port Angeles Police Department bought Tasers about seven years ago and required patrol officers to carry them.
In 2006, Port Angeles Police officers turned their Tasers on 46 times, and used them to deliver a shock 15 times.
The Tasers record when the weapon's safety is turned off and its laser sight is on.
Typically, just turning the Taser on and pointing it at an unruly person is enough to elicit cooperation, Viada said.
"It's a safety issue, a safety issue for the suspect and for the officer," said Forks Police Department Chief Mike Powell.
"Even though the person is receiving volts of electricity, and cramping up the muscles, that causes so much less damage then going hand-to-hand with the officer or using a baton."
Patrol officers with the Sequim Police Department and the Clallam County Sheriff's Department also carry Tasers.
Pepper spray is another non-lethal tool that officers can use that does not require as much contact as a baton.
But, Viada said, pepper spray can leave a person in pain much longer than a short electrical shock.
"The advantage of the Taser over pepper spray products is that after the typical five-second actuation of the Taser, the suspect is no longer experiencing any discomfort, whereas with pepper spray, there is a substantial amount of clean up," Viada said.
As part of training to use Tasers, officers are subjected to one of it's shocks.
The Taser shock "was far less unpleasant than experiencing the pepper spray I experienced in my pepper spray training," Viada said.
Reporter Randy Trick can be reached at 360-417-3537 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last modified: August 19. 2007 9:00PM