News: Clark County (2 March 2005)

Contact: Crystal Wendt

----Sources: Marshfield News Herald (Marshfield, Wood Co., Wis.) Wed, Mar 2, 2005

Clark Co. officers to get Tasers

By Matt Ollwerther --Marshfield News-Herald

NEILLSVILLE - Clark County will soon purchase five Tasers that will be put into patrol cars and the jail, paralleling a move by other area law enforcement agencies.

Three Tasers will be carried by deputies on patrol and the two others will be used in the jail, said Clark County Sheriff Louis Rosandich.

Tasers fire barbed darts up to 21 feet. The darts are connected to the unit by wires and can impart an electric shock designed to temporarily immobilize suspects. The Tasers provide another tool to prevent injury to officers and citizens, Rosandich said. The units have not yet been ordered, but are in the budget. He couldn't give an estimated arrival date for the X26 units, a newer model offered by the company. Each costs about $800.

All law enforcement officials using Tasers are required to take a four-hour course on its use. Rosandich said the personnel who will use the incoming Tasers already have completed the class.

The choice between using the two nonlethal weapons officers carry - the Taser and oleoresin capsicum, or pepper spray - is up to the officer at the scene, depending on circumstances. However, pepper spray is nondiscriminate, meaning officers sometimes are affected along with suspects.

The Medford Police Department recently purchased two X26 Tasers. One, however, was sent back for warranty work, said Sgt. Bill Gebauer. When it returns, both units will be deployed on patrols.

The Marshfield Police Department, which has nine X26 Tasers, has reported more than 30 deployments without injury. Each time a Taser is drawn from its holster, it is logged as a deployment.

Taser International has come under recent criticism from organizations such as Amnesty International that claim at least 80 suspect deaths were caused by Tasers after they were shocked. However, a report issued Feb. 17 by the Madison Police Department found the "Taser is extraordinarily effective in controlling resistive subjects, while also being extraordinarily safe." Rosandich said the criticism will not stop the county's plan to implement the Tasers.

But the attention has rocked the company's stock. Taser International stock was trading at just over $13 a share Tuesday afternoon, down from nearly $33 two months ago, which was an all-time high for the company.



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