The Westminster Police Department is a leader in Colorado in utilizing less lethal TASER Conducted Electrical Weapons (CEW), having first acquired and continuously deploying them since 1999. TASER devices are manufactured by TASER International, in Scottsdale, AZ. Westminster Police currently deploys a combination of X26E and X2 TASERs. In the first quarter of 2017, Westminster’s entire inventory of CEWs will be X2 TASERs.
Each generation of TASER devices has proven to be a dramatic improvement to their predecessors. TASER devices evolve by becoming more compact, lighter, more robust, and more precise. TASER devices track their use and report data. The TASER X2 is a Smart Weapon. TASER Smart Weapons are built on an all digital platform with the ability to measure and adjust charge output during deployment. Smart Weapons increase or decrease electrical output insuring the device is using the optimal amount of energy to control the intended target of the device. Smart TASERs preform health checks and can be updated over the web. X2 TASERs are two shot CEW devices allowing officers an immediate back up shot when the original probes fail to adequately connect or when additional force is needed. Backup shots protect officers and citizens as there is a second immediate chance to control the situation. This second TASER shot diminishes the chance that other more invasive force options will need to be employed.
TASERs are not risk free, but are considered "less lethal" weapons. TASERs use electricity to interrupt the skeletal muscle and neuropathways in the body. TASERs cause pain; however, that discomfort ends when the electricity stops. After being exposed to a TASER CEW, people report feelings similar to being involved in a stressful situation combined with a high intensity workout. TASERs are designed to incapacitate people such as dangerous, resistive suspects from a safe distance, up to 25 feet away. TASERs operate at very safe, measured energy levels. For more information about TASER CEW devices go to TASER.com.
Westminster has had great success with using TASERs. There have been countless situations over the past decades where TASERs have been used;
- to control combative, violent persons involved in psychotic outbursts,
- to apprehend violent criminal offenders, and
- to warn or deescalate violent encounters using spark demonstrations.
Many of those situations which would likely have ended in the use of deadly force, but instead were diffused safely by the use of a TASER CEW. An example situation in which the TASER use saved a life occurred in 2000 when a suicidal teenager charged officers with two butcher knives. In this event, if an officer had not been equipped with a TASER, his only option would have been to use his handgun to defend himself. This teenager's life may not have been spared in this particular case if a less lethal option was not available. Using deadly force to protect life in this situation would have been tragic, not only for the family involved, but also for the officers involved who would never want to use deadly force unless it is the only option.
The Westminster Police Department has seen a significant drop officer and suspect injury since deploying TASER devices. TASERs reduce the likelihood that officers will be forced to go "hands on" with resistive suspects. Face-to-face altercations result in a variety of injuries that require medical intervention. Officers are able to take advantage of distance and technology using TASERs. Westminster’s investment in TASER devices has paid dividends; preventing litigation, injuries, deaths and emotional trauma.
Combined with a rigorous training program, TASERs are one of many tools that Westminster Police officers have to complete their law enforcement mission in our community and protect life.
The TASER program is coordinated by Sergeant Tim Read, a Master Instructor for TASER International. Sergeant Kevin Sailor, a Senior Master Instructor and recognized use of force expert is a member of the TASER Training Team.
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