Richmond County deputies began getting a 50,000-volt option to their utility belts this week.
“It won’t benefit just us,” Capt. Gerald Metzler said of the new Taser X2. “I actually think it will benefit the public to a large extent.”
More than 300 uniformed deputies trained with tasers over the past month. Each trainee was required to be zapped.
“It was the most uncomfortable feeling you can imagine for five seconds,” Metzler said. “For those five seconds I was incapacitated completely. Anything anyone wanted to do to me could have been done.”
The pain passed after several seconds, he said.
Metzler said he expects the number of people willing to fight with deputies will drop when word gets out they have tasers. Most people, he said, know about the “uncomfortable” jolt of electricity thanks to television and the Internet and are not eager to experience it.
Capt. John Francisco said the tasers could result in decreased injuries to officers and suspects and reduce workman’s compensation claims.
The law allows officers to go one step above the force used against them. Without the taser, officers had the option of using hands, fists, a baton, chemical sprays or handgun.
“We’re putting a tool in place of all of them,” Metzler said. “The taser can be used in place of everything else except deadly force.”
Officers can still use the other tools when necessary, but the chemical sprays will be removed from the utility belts. Francisco said tasers and spray are not a safe mix.
“We’ll still have it, but it won’t be carried on the belt,” he said. “We try not to have a joint deployment of the taser and OC spray at the same time.”
Metzler said he’s found some people can fight through a spray, but with the taser, resistance is much less likely.
Tasers will be issued to deputies throughout the week. Metzler said the office hopes to continue purchasing more until all officers are equipped.