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Tuesday, November 30, 2021

GPD to receive Tasers in October

For the Gainesville Police Department, Tasers are going to be the newest addition to its arsenal.

GPD spokesman Lt. Keith Kameg said the police department will receive about 36 Tasers in October.

Every sworn police officer will go through Taser training, and those selected to carry a Taser will go through additional training, he said.

GPD is currently writing a departmental use of force policy that deals with Tasers, Kameg said.

GPD will join several other local law enforcement agencies that use Tasers, which include Alachua County Sheriff's Office and the University Police Department.

The sheriff's office started using Tasers about five to six years ago.

ASO spokesman Keith Faulk said every sworn law enforcement deputy is issued a Taser and goes through a day of eight-hour training.

The officers must have an annual recertification, which involves a written test and redeployment of the Taser, he said.

Tasers are only used when people are actively resisting arrest, Faulk said.

"Think of Batman and his utility belt," he said. "He has all his tools, and law enforcement has all their tools."

When people are told to put their hands behind their back, 90 percent obey, 5 percent run and the other 5 percent actively resist, he said.

"Those are the ones we engage in physical confrontations," he said.

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Faulk said he's carried a Taser for about five or six years. He's never had to use it.

The Alachua County Sheriff's Office has used Tasers 79 times in 2006, according to a Use of Force Analysis report.

This made up 15 percent of the 535 incidents in 2006 when officers had to use force, the report said.

Tasers are much safer than batons, which can break bones, or pepper sprays, Faulk said.

"There have been instances when we've attempted to break up fights in a gym, and 15 people were contaminated when we were trying to spray two," he said.

Faulk said the M26, which is the first Taser the officers used, is about the size of a handgun.

The sheriff's office has started to phase in the X26, which is about the size of a person's palm.

Faulk said the Taser is a popular use of force because it prevents injury.

"If someone is physically resisting, the Taser reduces the chance of injury by a minimum of 50 percent," he said.

The Taser disrupts the central nervous system for however long it's held against the individual.

"We trust that they'll do the right thing in the right circumstance," Faulk said. "Sometimes it's only a split second they have to make that decision."

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