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Published: Wednesday, 1/12/2005

Delta: Tasers for police expected

BY JANET ROMAKER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Police officers could be equipped in the coming weeks with a new weapon that gives off a jolt of electricity to incapacitate a suspect.

Police Chief Garry Chamberlin said he'd like to buy Tasers this month or next. A Delta officer late this month will attend a two-day training session about the device at the Ohio Peace Officers Training Academy in London, Ohio. The officer then will serve as training officer for the Delta Police Department.

Plans call for buying four compact X26 Tasers - less-powerful than the M26 model that many officers across the United States carry - at a cost of about $3,600, said Chief Chamberlin, who has discussed the purchase with village council members. The chief researched the devices before recommending the purchase.

Non-lethal weapons available to the officers now are pepper spray and an expandable baton. Tasers could be used by officers to deal with a combative person, the chief said. Policies and procedures for their use will be drawn up.

Delta's police department has five officers. The department's staff is down by two full-time and two part-time officers, but the chief said that he is in the process of looking at candidates to replace one full-time officer and the two part-timers.

In Fulton County, officers in Wauseon, Fayette and the sheriff's office use the devices.

Wauseon Police Chief Keith Torbet said his officers used Tasers two or three times in the last 12 to 18 months on violent, aggressive suspects.

The weapon can keep officers from having to use lethal force, he said.

The stun guns have come under fire in recent months. In November, Amnesty International human rights group alleged that police are using the weapons excessively, and that in some departments Tasers have become a prevalent force tool.

Arizona-based Taser International Inc. says its devices are being used in more than 6,000 law enforcement and correctional agencies in the United States and abroad.

Taser stands for Thomas A. Swift Electric Rifle, from the Tom Swift series of children's novels written in the early 20th century, according to a company representative.



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