Painful lesson

Published 5:27 am Thursday, May 22, 2003

By By BEN RAYMOND LODE / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- Niles City Police are currently receiving training in how to use the Advanced Taser M-26, which the department bought 11 of earlier this year.
The Advanced Taser M-26, which is only one of many Taser models available, is a non-lethal weapon capable of incapacitating a subject without injury from a safe distance.
Capt. Jim Merriman, Niles City Police Department, during a training session Wednesday, said the department's new Taser policy takes effect today.
Merriman said all the police department's officers who are on the road will be equipped with Tasers.
Lt. Mike Stanton, also with the Niles City Police Department, and one of the department's certified Taser instructors, said the sessions are held to certify the department's officers how to use the non-lethal weapon.
Stanton said in Michigan, the Tasers can only be used by certified police officers.
Forty-two other states in the U.S., however, allow the public to purchase Taser guns, he said.
Stanton also said the department's officers will take a refresher course each year on how to use the Taser.
One of the main reasons many police departments across the country are adopting the use of Tasers, is the reduction in officer injuries related to situations where the use of some force by officers is necessary.
Although never intended to replace the use of deadly force, Stanton said the Taser is an additional tool, in addition to batons and chemical spray, when dealing with people.
He said officers often find themselves in situations involving drunks, people on drugs and people who fight, where the use of Taser is appropriate.
Amber Walter, one of the department's officers who received training Wednesday, said she thinks the Taser will be a useful tool.
That was after Lt. Stanton fired a Taser and made Walter need to lay down because of the shock she received.
Stanton said part of the training is for the officers to get a feel of what it's like to be shot, or stung, by a Taser.
That way they might be better able to better evaluate the situations when the use of the Taser would be appropriate.
A second reason, Stanton said, is so that the officers, if they ever need to testify in court in relation to a Taser firing, can explain why they deemed it necessary to use the weapon.
Lt. Fulton Moore, also a Niles City Police Department officer, got both shot and stung during Wednesday's session.
Representatives from SMCAS were also invited to Wednesday's session.
Charles Knauft, a SMCAS paramedic, was also given a sting, although a reduced one.
After the fact, he said it was a very strong and intense muscular shock.