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Sheriff's officials credit fewer injuries at jail to Taser use

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Sgt. Matt Tindall demonstrates how to stand when firing a Taser, which the jail started using in late April.  SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
Sgt. Matt Tindall demonstrates how to stand when firing a Taser, which the jail started using in late April.

Dealing with inmates who are uncooperative or combative can result in fights, and fights often result in injuries to inmates and deputies alike, Richmond County sheriff’s Capt. Bill Reeves said.

“We’ve had plenty of deputies get hurt and be out of work for a couple of weeks or more,” he said. “They get broken fingers, hurt wrists, sprained ankles – all kinds of stuff.”

Those types of injuries have become a lot less common in the past three months. Reeves said there is one reason for that: Deputies have started using Tasers.

According to sheriff’s “use of force” reports, the number of fights with inmates and injuries has been reduced by more than half since the stun guns were introduced in Richmond County jails.

“It used to be that if an inmate didn’t cooperate, you would have to put your hands on them and that would end up in a fight,” Reeves said. “Now we don’t do that. Now we let them know if they don’t follow directions they will be tased.”

About 20 deputies have been trained to use and carry Taser model X26, a small pistollike device that fires two barbed darts attached to wires up to 25 feet long. After the darts embed in the skin of the target, the Taser sends a five-second burst of 5,000 volts of pulsing electricity. The charge disrupts the body’s normal electrical impulses and leaves the person in a heap on the floor.

“You pop them; they get five seconds of pure hell,” Reeves said. “After that, then it is over with. They usually do exactly what you tell them to do.”

The Tasers, which cost about $8,400 total, have been used eight times since they were introduced in late April, but jail officials say the influence on inmate behavior was apparent right away.

“There was an immediate impact from one day to the next after we started using them,” said Sgt. Matt Tindell, who is in charge of jail security at the Charles B. Webster Detention Center on Phinizy Road.

Tindell said the mere threat of a stun gun is enough to calm inmates who in previous situations would have been ready to fight.

Use-of-force records, which indicate that deputies had to use more than words to control inmates or defend themselves, are down since the guns were purchased.

Records indicate that inmate assaults on deputies are down 52 percent from the three months before their use began. Staff injuries from inmates have dropped 64 percent, and total use-of-force reports have fallen 28 percent.

Reeves said the danger that an inmate will be injured in a fight with a deputy also has been reduced. In the past two months, there have been only two such incidents, according to jail records.

The only injuries from the weapons are the small punctures left by the barbed darts. There are no residual effects from the electrical charge, Reeves said.

Before being issued a stun gun, deputies must be trained – which includes experiencing being shot, Reeves said.

“We want deputies to know what they are putting somebody through when they tase them,” he said. “It is all for business.”

Tindell, who is now a certified instructor, can vividly recall his up-close encounter with the Taser X26. He said the pain was intense and incapacitating but vanished the moment the electrical current stopped.

“It was the worst five seconds of my entire life,” he said.

Comments (10) Add comment
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jackrussell
219
Points
jackrussell 09/03/12 - 10:53 pm
2
0
Wonderful. When will the

Wonderful. When will the deputies on the road get tasers? Lasers are obviously good tools for them to have. Seems they should've had them long ago if it's proven to lower incidents of injury.

bclicious
718
Points
bclicious 09/04/12 - 02:20 am
4
0
I agree with jackrussell

Funding is obviously an issue here. I know that you can't really put a price on a law enforcement officer's safety; however, RCSO just doesn't have the money.

With that, if there are any law enforcement officers or civilians in the CSRA who wish to receive TASER training just let me know.

bclicious
718
Points
bclicious 09/04/12 - 02:20 am
2
0
seenitB4
87304
Points
seenitB4 09/04/12 - 06:29 am
5
0
bclicious

If Sean Moores asks for training don't give it to him please...:)

OpenCurtain
10049
Points
OpenCurtain 09/04/12 - 08:08 am
1
0
Road use vs. jail use

The embarrassment of doing the jerky chick on the floor is a great deterrent to any Macho Inmate trying to look big by showing off his/her tail end.

However, Road Patrol deputies on the other hand present a whole other set of issues themselves. Given the limited waist area to carry 2 weapons, a radio, cuffs and extra ammo etc... (Oh!, did I leave a dounut hole open up for jokes with that statement.)

OpenCurtain
10049
Points
OpenCurtain 09/04/12 - 08:13 am
3
0
I can see it now

A comment poster opens his door, wearing a bathrobe and has a cup of coffee in hand. He looks up an sees Sean is standing there Taser in hand.

"You posted a comment I have an issue with."

CobaltGeorge
159182
Points
CobaltGeorge 09/04/12 - 08:20 am
0
0
Proof

that if the proper deterrent is used on criminals before they get to prison, the number of crimes commented would also go down. Then and only then will our bad humans realize that when you put your hand on a hot stove, you will get burnt, not just get a band aid.

itsanotherday1
43292
Points
itsanotherday1 09/04/12 - 08:28 am
3
0
I understand the challenge

"However, Road Patrol deputies on the other hand present a whole other set of issues themselves. Given the limited waist area to carry 2 weapons, a radio, cuffs and extra ammo etc..."

However, if I were a LEO I think I would find the room. If you are dealing with someone high on drugs and combative, it seems to me some non-lethal, effective force is better than struggling with them or shooting them.

seenitB4
87304
Points
seenitB4 09/04/12 - 08:38 am
3
0
hahah...about Sean

He has been known to ZAP some of us...:)

Chad
57
Points
Chad 09/04/12 - 02:13 pm
0
0
Love the Taser

The Taser has proven effective in Officer safety in multiple locations. Orlando PD saw a drop in Officer injuries due to interactions with criminals by 50% or more. The Money saved by not paying for lost time, OT, or medical expenses for deputies will more than pay for the Tasers. In addition the Taser x26 only runs about 600 Dollars. The x2 is about $1000.00. Plus with the Taser Cams and the ability to download data from the tasers will cover any cases of abuse caused by the the Deputy.
Another point of interest the Taser has had more studies done on its effects on the human body than Pepper Spray, Police Baton,Un-armed selfdefence, and Sidearms combined.

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