taser

Vehicle enforcement officers spent two days learning about tasers.

For two days members of Kentucky Vehicle Enforcement Post 7, from Cpt. David Marcum to the newest officer, were back in the classroom learning how and when to use the newest weapon in their arsenal — the taser.

Under the eye of training officers, who have been charged with teaching the department’s 160 officers throughout the state, the 24 officers from Post 7, which covers Laurel and 14 other counties in southern and eastern Kentucky, watched training films depicting the use of the taser, learned the intricacies of how the weapon works and experienced the use of the weapon first-hand as each officer was tased.

“It was horrible,” said Officer Shawn Hines when it was his turn to be tased. “I could still hear and understand verbal commands. But the truth is, it hurt.”

“After I was tased, I certainly wanted to comply,” Marcum said.

KVE began issuing the tasers in June. Before an officer is authorized to carry the taser, he or she is required to go through the training class. New officers, including those coming from other departments, will also undergo the training course before they are allowed to carry the taser.

Greg Reams, public information officer for Post 7, said the addition of the taser gives the KVE officers another weapon to go to between the baton or pepper spray and the gun.

“The problem with pepper spray is the target area is the face, but even if you hit the target, it doesn’t necessarily bring compliance,” Reams said.

Officer Jason Freeman, one of the training officers, explained when the taser is used, the subject loses muscle control and falls to the ground, Reams said. Though the exact voltage was not disclosed, Reams said officers have been told the taser is capable of incapacitating a bull. Freeman said the taser may either be used with the prongs fired out into the subject or by placing it up against the subject. If the prongs are fired, Freeman said the officer carries several reloads and within seconds can have another set of prongs ready to go.

As with any other use of force, Reams said officers are required to fill out a report on the circumstances which led to the use of the taser and the report will be reviewed at the KVE state office in Frankfort to ensure the situation warranted the officer using the weapon.

Marcum said studies of law enforcement agencies that have issued the taser to their officers show the number of injuries to both the officers and suspects taken into custody have been reduced. Even public knowledge that a particular agency has issued the tasers can result in a change in the way suspects deal with those officers, Marcum said.

“In the case of our officers, the closest KVE backup may be a couple of counties away,” Marcum said. “We have good working relationships with the other agencies in our district, but just knowing they have the taser can cause a change in attitude of the suspects where they calm down and want to talk instead of fight with the officer.”

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