Written by JORDAN CRAVENS Sentinel Staff Writer
Tuesday, 15 May 2012 09:46
Bowling Green police Patrolman Scott Frank let out a yell and bit down hard on his tongue as the electrical current from the Taser immobilized his muscles.
|BG police patrolman Andy Mulinix demonstrates a "drive stun" used with new tasers. (Photos: J.D. Pooley/Sentinel-Tribune)
Frank experienced the stun of the Taser Monday as part of training being conducted this week by the Bowling Green Police Department.
Officers will begin patrolling the city with the Tasers in the next couple of weeks.
"It was horrible," said Frank as he stood up after regaining his functions.
Frank is one of 41 police officers who will be trained on how to properly deploy and use the Taser.
"The Taser is just another option for officers to have to reduce injuries to officers, suspects and victims," said Bowling Green police Sgt. Jason Stanley, an instructor for the training.
One reason police have decided to begin carrying Tasers is because of an increase in injuries to officers responding to situations.
"We have started to see a higher level of resistance against our officers," said Deputy Chief Tony Hetrick said. "This is another tool we can use to combat that."
Between 2006 and 2011, Bowling Green officers sustained 40 injuries responding to situations.
"It's technology that has been around for a lot of years and we have been talking about it for a while," Hetrick said.
The Wood County Sheriff's Office and the Bowling Green post of the State Highway Patrol use Tasers, as do other Northwest Ohio law enforcement agencies.
Bowling Green officers now carry pepper spray and batons, in addition to their firearms.
However, according to Hetrick, pepper spray can take longer for a person to fully recover from and batons are not viewed favorably by the public.
"Officers are aware of this perception and as such often times shy away from (the baton's) use," he said.
"The Taser is an additional less-lethal tool available to officers on the street," Hetrick said.
One example of how a Taser could be used, Stanley said, was if a person became violent in downtown Bowling Green.
"A Taser will allow us to take them under control," and limit injuries to all parties involved.
|BG police Sgt. Jason Stanley demonstrates the use of a taser.
All of the officers who will carry a Taser will undergo an 8-hour training course which includes classroom work, drills and scenario-based training.
The training is being led by Stanley and Patrolman Andy Mulinix who went through a Taser instructor course.
Officers were not required to be Tasered as part of the training, but some chose to experience it.
Those who chose to be stunned, like Frank, were Tasered while standing on a mat and being supported by two other officers.
Officers were instructed to avoid deploying the Taser into a person's head, throat or chest. They were also told not to use the Taser on pregnant women, children and the elderly.
They were also taught that when a person is hit with the Taser, they are likely to fall forward or backward.
"You don't want to Taser someone who is jumping over a fence, unless the situation deems it necessary," Stanley said.
An example, he said, would be if a man wanted for murder was escaping.
Each time a Taser is used, ranking officers will review the use of force. The Taser-brand product allows for review of how long the stun cycle was and how many times it was deployed. Ranking officers review this data to ensure the officer followed proper protocol established by the department.