January 10, 2007
Reported by: Britney Glaser
It's seen as a controversial tool by many, but it is deemed completely safe by law enforcement officials and the manufacturers of the product. Tasers are on the rise in the Lake Area and have actually tripled in quantity over the past year.
Lieutenant Frank Adams with the Lake Charles Police Department says, "The taser is the most effective tool that we have on a violent, combative person short of going with deadly force."
But still, this tool remains questionable by many critics. A pregnant family member of Paula Winford was tasered in December and she now worries about the health of that unborn child.
Winford says, "We were yelling [at the police] saying, 'she's pregnant, she's pregnant' and next thing you know, she was laying on the ground from the taser and she shook like she was having a seizure. Then, the officers grabbed her, they put handcuffs on her and took her to the emergency room."
Questionable situations like that one will be clearer thanks to an emergency spending bill the Lake Charles Police Department has received. They have gone from 40 tasers to 120 - and 80 of those tasers will be equipped with high-tech taser cameras.
Lt. Adams says, "It's just a small mini-camera that is attached to the bottom of the taser device that will record and is downloadable so that in the aftermath, you can actually see what the officer saw prior to enduring the activation of the taser."
In Lake Charles, the only officers allowed to use tasers have completed a 6-hour training course and have actually been tasered themselves in order to understand the effects of the tool.
Although sites like Campaign Against The Taser report that 150 deaths have resulted because of tasers, Lt. Adams says the only deaths in relation to tasers were actually a result of substances found in the systems of those hit by the gun or because of pre-existing medical conditions.
Lt. Adams says, "You just can't predict who you're going to come across on the streets."
With safety of the community as the top priority, officers are confident in the effectiveness of the taser. Lt. Adams says, "It's a community safety issue. And you need to have trust and faith in our police officers that they have the tools they need to protect their people."