Rantoul Police Sergeant Teaches Taser Safety
As early as next year, Champaign police officers will start carrying tasers.
The Champaign City Council voted 6-3 Tuesday night to allow its police department to use Tasers.
Champaign Police will buy 25 Tasers with built-in cameras and a Use of Force Policy to govern their deployment. But Taser opponents say the weapons are dangerous and prone to abuse.
Rantoul police Sgt. Marcus Beach teaches a taser training course at the Illinois Police Academy. Beach said every police recruit is offered the opportunity by his or her department to undergoing taser training that follows with a certification.
The seven-hour training and certification includes a detailed presentation about the taser itself, citing what the device can and cannot do, a voluntary exposure, in which recruits will be shocked for five seconds with the taser, and finally a stress course, where police recruits must make real-time decisions on whether discharging a taser is warranted for a variety of situations.
For example, Sgt. Beach said a taser could be used if a subject was carrying a weapon, or if he or she were resisting an officer in a violent manner where a subject may hit them or kick them or have any other type of physical altercation.
Fifteen residents of Champaign and Urbana spoke against the Tasers in remarks to the city council Tuesday night, while two residents spoke in their favor.
Many cited incidents in which police used Tasers improperly, or people died or suffered serious injuries after Tasers were used on them.
Sgt. Beach said one of the biggest misconceptions about tasers include falsely cited statistics on taser related deaths.
"People don't understand that so far there has never been a case where the electricity from a taser has caused somebody's death," said Beach. "Certainly there are instances where people have died after the use of a taser. That stuff is related more so to falls or medical conditions that the person had."
Additionally, Sgt. Beach said there is a misunderstanding of the actual intensity of the voltage in a taser. According to Beach the voltage is the amount of pressure that is pushing the electricity out of the taser, but he said that is not what makes tasers dangerous.
"What matter is things like amperage, and the flow of electrons, that's what makes electricity dangerous. So it's very low voltage and very low amperage, and that's why I go back to the electricity of a taser never caused the death of a person, because it's simply not enough energy to change the heartbeat of an individual," said Beach.