Twelve of the Vandalia Police Departments officers recently completed a days worth of training on the departments newest piece of equipment. The 13th officer was unable to complete that training because he was disabled from an injury he sustained in the line of duty, an injury that could have been prevented through the use of that new equipment.
The city recently purchased for the department tasers, a gun-like device that can be used to temporarily stun an individual who is resisting arrest or threatening bodily harm to an officer or another individual.
The city was able to purchase the tasers through a gift from the Old Capitol Foundation. That gift, Mayor Rick Gottman said, is much appreciated.
Were glad that the foundation board saw fit to provide these funds for us, because this is equipment that provides our officers with a safe and effective way to handle individuals who are combative or threatening, Gottman said.
The purchase of the tasers was initiated prior to the retirement of Bob McCart from the police chiefs position. His successor, Larry Eason, was charged with following through on the purchase of and training for this new equipment.
The officers daylong training included classroom instruction, a written test and instruction on how to use the tasers. They can be effectively used by either direct contact of the weapon to the resisting individual or by firing nitrogen-propelled wires.
Not only did the officers learn how to fire the tasers, but they also learned how it feels to be the target of a taser.
Eason said a taser fires a five-second electrical jolt that subdues a resisting or threatening individual long enough for an officer to handcuff him or her.
The police chief said that tasers have been proven to be both effective AND safe.
Theyve done so many studies on these, and theyve been proven to be non-lethal, Eason said.
The officers, after being tased during their training session, can testify to the fact that the taser is an effective tool.
They definitely stop you cold, said Sgt. Jeff Ray.
Ray emphasized that a person is fine after the effects of the taser go away. However, that doesnt mean that the resisting or threatening individual is likely to again become combative after those affects wear off.
You definitely dont want any more, Ray said, remembering what it was like to be a target during the training session.
Directives on the use of tasers and other weapons, including firearms and batons are included in the departments directives manual that was recently completed by Eason and approved by the Vandalia City Council. Included in those directives is a mandate that, when feasible, an officer will warn an individual that he or she will fire a taser if necessary.
There are times when the use of a taser is appropriate, Eason said.
In fact, an example of how a taser can be affectively used is the incident that resulted in an injury to patrol officer Judd Newcomb.
Eason said that Newcomb responded to a report of a person banging on a garage door at a residence. There were indications that this was a domestic dispute, the chief said.
As Newcomb entered the residence, the person who was the subject of the complaint lunged at him and took him to the floor, Eason said. Newcomb was injured in the incident.
If he had had a taser, this (injury) might not have happened, he said.