Winton PD goes high tech

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 12, 2005

WELDON – Winton Police Chief David Griffith will have an effective new tool when he faces his next uncooperative suspect.

Griffith recently purchased a Taser X-26 for the Winton Police Department and completed a Taser certification course at Halifax County Community College on Tuesday.

The Taser X-26 is best described as an electroshock gun or a stun gun. It is a weapon used for subduing a person by administering an electric shock, 50,000 volts to be specific.

The training session was held for local law enforcement officers to learn how to operate the Taser guns safely and effectively.

&uot;I am a one-man department with no back-up in some situations, so the Taser will be an excellent tool for me,&uot; explained Griffith.

&uot;Officer injuries are down 80 percent in departments that use the Taser; suspect injuries are down 67 percent, and lethal force is down 78 percent,&uot; added Griffith. &uot;This is one of the major reasons I purchased a Taser for the department.&uot;

&uot;Many of the officers in Bertie County are already carrying them,&uot; Griffith said.

The Taser is as a non-lethal weapon that usually doesn’t cause injuries like batons or affect innocent bystanders like pepper spray.

They are not meant to do any permanent damage to a person, only to stun and incapacitate them temporarily.

Weldon Police Chief Greg Parker conducted the extensive training session attended by 14 law enforcement officers.

Parker emphasized safety during the session and explained how the Taser works.

&uot;The Taser delivers 50,000 volts of energy that shoot through the body and make the muscles contract.

The Taser causes a disruption of muscle function,&uot; Parker said.

Parker taught the students to aim the Taser at the center of the suspect’s body, legs or back.

&uot;The optimal range is 7-15 feet, but the Taser is effective from point-blank range up to 21 feet,&uot; Parker explained.

&uot;Most officers tend to get too close. The face is off limits,&uot; added Parker.

There is a much bigger target with the Taser because you only have to hit the body, where as with pepper spray you have to hit the suspect in the face.

The Taser fires a small spear-shaped electrode propelled by a small gas charge with attached wires that lead back to the device. Once fired, the electrode imbeds in the skin and then delivers a jolt of electricity.

&uot;Clothing is usually the main reason for failure because the probe can get caught in thick clothing,&uot; Parker explained.

Another helpful tool the Taser possesses is a laser, which helps the user to aim the device more accurately.

&uot;The Taser is not a substitute for lethal force,&uot; emphasized Parker, &uot;but is effective even when the suspect is under the influence of drugs or alcohol.&uot;

&uot;The Taser is used mostly in cases where the suspect is resisting arrests or where the suspect is violent or suicidal, but is can also be used during civil disturbances,&uot; added Parker.

Parker showed several real-life videos to the class to demonstrate the effectiveness of the Taser.

The Taser never delivers more than 50,000 volts, even when multiple Tasers are being used.

&uot;There have been some concerns about the Taser from groups like Amnesty International,&uot; commented Griffith, but the safety and effectiveness of the Taser is hard to deny.

&uot;Anytime you can reduce officer and suspect injuries it’s great,&uot; added Griffith.